Yaya Toure‘s agent has revealed the midfielder is happy to have stayed at Manchester City, even though he could have moved during the summer transfer window. The agent also played down City boss Pep Guardiola‘s decision to leave Toure out of the squad for this season’s UEFA Champions League.
Dimitri Seluk, Toure’s agent, spoke to Russian source Sport Express (h/t Goal’s Stephen Creek) and revealed how his client welcomed the chance to stay at City: “We are pleased that Yaya was in the team until the end of the contract. Of course, he could leave, but we decided that he would stay.”
Despite the decision to stay, Seluk also hinted that Toure hasn’t been completely happy with things at the club: “Yaya is a great professional. He has shown that, in spite of some decisions, the player has to do their job. He has won the Premier League twice, and in general everything in the world, except for the World Cup.”
One thing sure to have irked Toure is the decision to leave him out of the Champions League squad. Toure was one of the more notable omissions from Guardiola‘s European squad, according to Simon Bajkowski of the Manchester Evening News.
Bajkowski also revealed how 33-year-old Toure “turned down a number of offers to leave the club this summer.” Indeed, Toure was said to have rejected lucrative offers from China, per the Daily Mirror‘s John Cross. Back in June, Simon Stone of BBC Sport linked the midfield powerhouse with Inter Milan.
Should Guardiola have included Toure for the UCL?
Responding to the Champions League omission, Seluk sought to downplay the choice and instead helped his client present a united front with the club: “This decision was made by an ingenious modern manager, Guardiola. Yaya is a professional. Perhaps Pep took into account the fact that his contract ends in a year and wants to give other players a chance to work on themselves.”
Toure’s status is a thorny issue this season. After all, the Ivory Coast man has been a linchpin of City’s era of sustained success since 2011. He bagged the winning goals in both the semi-final and final of the club’s FA Cup-winning run that same year.
Toure’s drive, strength, shooting power, skill and eye for goal also made him a key figure in the club’s two Premier League title-winning sides. Toure was often the difference-maker during those seasons, a player who thrived in the biggest games.
Yet many have accused Toure of a rapid decline during recent seasons. In particular, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was highly critical of Toure after City lost to Manchester United in April 2015, per Aaron Flanagan of the Daily Mirror.
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For all the criticism, though, Toure remains an influential player on his day. Keeping him around is good news for a City squad that may need his ability going forward to help keep their Premier League title challenge on track.
City Have Interest in Alex Grimaldo
City may be getting closer to eventually saying goodbye to their key man in the middle, but the club is reportedly already looking for a young star at another important position.
The Citizens have been watching Benfica full-back Alex Grimaldo, according to Portuguese publication O Jogo (h/t Ciaran Kelly and Rob Pollard of the Manchester Evening News). The reports have stated City are considering a deal for the 20-year-old defender in the January transfer window and have already made contact with his agent.
Sport Witness provided a few more details from the O Jogo story, including how Barcelona, where Grimaldo started as an academy prospect, will be due part of the fee if a deal is struck.
Grimaldo usually operates on the right, so he makes sense as a target for Guardiola and City. The right-back berth is currently well-stocked with veterans Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna.
They ensure the position is loaded with experience, savvy, skill and versatility. But the position is also long on years, as Sagna is 33 and Zabaleta is 31.
City will soon need fresh options at right-back, just like an infusion of new blood is inevitable for the heart of midfield. By getting his team used to playing without Toure, along with tracking Grimaldo, Guardiola already seems to be making a head start on solving both problems.