We cannot replace Iniesta – Abidal

Andres Iniesta is irreplaceable, according to newly installed Barcelona technical director Eric Abidal.

Abidal replaced Robert Hernandez after the Spaniard's contract expired and will work alongside head coach Ernesto Valverde in the 2018-19 season.   -  AFP

Newly appointed Barcelona technical director Eric Abidal admitted that Andres Iniesta is irreplaceable at Camp Nou but vowed to get the best out of French forward Ousmane Dembele.

Abidal, who made 125 league appearances for the club between 2007 and 2013, replaced Robert Hernandez after the Spaniard's contract expired and will work alongside head coach Ernesto Valverde in the 2018-19 season.

At his presentation to the media, alongside vice-president Jordi Mestre, the former Monaco and Lyon defender paid tribute to Iniesta, who joined Japanese club Vissel Kobe at the end of 2017-18.

"We will make the decisions according to the needs of the team," Abidal told reporters. "But we cannot replace Iniesta with a player of the same quality, that's impossible.

"We want Dembele to have a brilliant World Cup, after that he can rest and then return here.

"We are looking forward to bringing the best out of him."

'Griezmann's decision his own'

Abidal refused to be drawn into the discussion about Antoine Griezmann, or whether the club's failure to sign the Frenchman left it searching for other strikers.

Griezmann committed his future to Atletico Madrid shortly before the World Cup, ending weeks of speculation over a possible move to Barcelona.

"Griezmann's decision is his and I do not want to enter this debate. The most important thing is the planning of next season and the future of the team.

"We will have to talk internally. I talked to Valverde but we did not talk about players because he was on vacation."

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