Yaya Touré has won just about everything there is to win in football. He is a Champions League winner with Barcelona, he won La Liga with the Catalan club and, since joining Manchester City, has added the Premier League title, the FA Cup and the League Cup to his achievements.
His contract with the Citizens runs until the end of the current season, but it seems likely that the Ivorian international’s days at the club are numbered after a falling out with new coach Pep Guardiola.
Touré has long had a difficult relationship with City and two years ago made the news when his agent claimed that the four-time African Footballer of the Year felt disrespected because he had not received a birthday cake.
His agent, Dimitri Seluk, said at the time: “Yaya is so upset, he is thinking of leaving City. City have treated him with disrespect and have really hurt him. What happened at his birthday meant the club doesn’t care about him. It was proof. They can say whatever they want, ‘Oh we like him, but we forgot’. None of them shook his hand on his birthday. It’s really sick.”
Touré confirmed that the agent was speaking on his behalf.
A year later, the bizarre incident was forgotten and Touré – although he still did not receive a cake for his birthday – got a cheque for £720 000 (R12.7 million), which was a contractual bonus for helping the club reach the Champions League.
The tempestuous relationship then seemed to steady as Touré played 44 games last season under Manuel Pellegrini, but things took a turn for the worse when the Chilean coach was replaced by Guardiola.
Touré and the Spaniard had their fair share of problems when Guardiola coached the midfielder in Barcelona and it took very little for their relationship to sour as Guardiola took over City.
When Touré was left out of the club’s Champions League squad, Seluk again got the ball rolling by claiming that Guardiola had humiliated Touré and needed to apologise to him if the club did not win the competition.
“If City don’t win the Champions League, I hope that Pep has got the balls to say that he was wrong to humiliate a great player like Yaya.
“Pep Guardiola – he thinks only about himself. He thinks he is already God. He won many titles with Barcelona, but Yaya also won the same titles with Barcelona. Pep thinks now he has won everything, he can do what he wants. For me, very strange things [have happened] in Manchester City because Yaya played with them for many years, [Joe] Hart played with them for many years, I don’t know, [Vincent] Kompany played for many years, and [in] comes a new coach and says, ‘Okay, these players out like dogs’,” Seluk said.
Needless to say, Guardiola was not amused and even left Touré out of his squad for their midweek League Cup match against Swansea, which is normally when players who are not regular starters, are given some play.
The coach said that until Touré’s agent apologised, the player would not be fielded, and it would seem that there is no way back from that.
At 33, Touré, who earlier in the week retired from international football, is nearing the end of his career and he seems willing to sit out the remainder of his contract, which at £220 000 per week is not surprising. A big-money move to China could follow in summer – if not in the January transfer window.