'Valverde will decide his future' - Abidal denies Barca are on the lookout for new head coach

The Blaugrana sporting director has called for supporters to be patient with the Spanish boss, who has faced plenty of criticism in recent months

Ernesto Valverde has the backing of Barcelona's backroom staff according to Eric Abidal, who moved to distance the Blaugrana from "clubs that change coaches after bad results".

Barcelona are top of La Liga, level on points with second-placed Real Madrid, but a 3-1 defeat at Levante and a goalless draw at home to Slavia Prague brought doubts over Valverde's leadership back to the fore among sections of the club's fanbase.

Netherlands boss Ronaldo Koeman has been touted as a potential replacement for Valverde, should he leave the position he took up in May 2017.

Abidal admitted that Valverde's position is never far from the headlines, despite his back-to-back La Liga triumphs, pointing to Barcelona's Champions League eliminations at the hands of Roma in 2017-18 and Liverpool in 2018-19 as sore points for supporters.

However, the Camp Nou sporting director has not yet lost confidence in the Spaniard, insisting Barca are not in the business of dismissing managers without reasonable grounds.

"There's always a debate about Valverde," Abidal told SPORT.

"The same thing that happened in Rome happened in Liverpool. Because of one result, you can end up thinking that it's been a bad season. And for the way that it happened. 

"In these situations, you can think that the coach is to blame, but you have to analyse everything. What does the coach bring to the team and vice-versa?

"We support the coach and we give him all the information, although the day-to-day is his. There are clubs that change coaches after bad results, but you always have to look at the wider situation.

"If the coach sees that it can be improved, you have to back him."

On rumours of a managerial search being conducted behind the scenes as Valverde approaches the end of his contract, Abidal added: "I can assure you that no one has spoken to anyone, although its continuity depends on the result. He is seen to like to train. In the end, he can only say that he wants to continue because of how he feels.

“I don't know if it will be the last season because he has the decision. The only thing I know is that we talked face to face about the situation recently. He will decide when he must decide."

Barcelona resume their latest La Liga campaign after the international break, with a tough fixture away at Leganes scheduled on November 23.

Valverde's men will then prepare for a Champions League group stage clash with Borrusia Dortmund at Camp Nou four days later