x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Jose Mourinho damaged Spanish football, says Andres Iniesta

And Barcelona 'considered it a risk' to offer defender Eric Abidal new contract, the Frenchman has said.

Andres Iniesta, left, and Iker Casillas, second from left, are Spain teammates.
Andres Iniesta, left, and Iker Casillas, second from left, are Spain teammates.

Jose Mourinho did more harm than good to Spanish football during his controversial three-year tenure as manager of Real Madrid, Andres Iniesta was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Portuguese Mourinho quit Real three years before the end of his contract after a 2012/13 campaign without major silverware and has returned to former club Chelsea.

His stint in the Spanish capital was overshadowed by a series of ugly incidents and he alienated a significant section of Madrid's own fans when he benched club captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, a Spain teammate of Iniesta's.

"You just have to look at the facts," the Barcelona midfielder said in an interview published in Sunday's edition of El Pais newspaper when asked if Mourinho had harmed Spanish football.

"Yes he damaged Spanish football, in general more harm than good," added the 29 year old. "But I don't like talking about that person at all. So if you don't mind we'll leave it at that."

Mourinho, 50, was an assistant coach at Barcelona in the late 1990s and has also managed Porto and Inter Milan.

Meanwhile, defender Eric Abidal has revealed he was not offered a new contract by Barcelona because the Primera Liga champions considered it to be too risky.

The 33-year-old Frenchman was released by the Catalan club at the end of the season just weeks after he made his comeback from a liver transplant.

Abidal spent a year on the sidelines as he recovered from the transplant last April, having previously had surgery to remove a tumour in March 2011.

The former France international claims it was worries over his health that scuppered his hopes of getting a new deal at Barca, but he is nevertheless determined to continue his career for another two years.

"They considered it a risk that something could happen to me and did not want the responsibility," Abidal said in an interview with El Mundo. "But I will continue playing while my doctors give me permission. I think it is the right time to leave, I will try to reach 35 before I retire."

Abidal also insists he holds no grudges despite his reluctance to leave the Nou Camp.

"I wanted to continue [at Barca] and this is not what I expected, but I leave with good memories. Barcelona have been my second family," he said. "It was hard and the decision was taken by many people, not just the coach.

"I'm not made of glass, though. When I made my comeback after undergoing surgery, that was the hardest game for me."

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