Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure’s Manchester City blistering career seems destined to end this summer after a frustrating 12 months spell at Etihad, no thanks to his overzealous agent, Dimitri Seluk. The Ivorien captain faces the tough, albeit tricky decision of following his agent to the exit or sticking with City that has shown fate in him, writes Olisemeka Obeche.

Ever since Dimitri Seluk, agent of Yaya Toure dropped the bombshell that the 32-year-old superstar is “90 per cent certain” to quit Etihad this summer, many top European clubs have reportedly declared their readiness to prize the utility player away. Inter Milan, Paris Saint Germaine (PSG), Real Madrid and Qatari Club, Al Gharafa have reported interests and have been monitoring the developments with keen interest.

But in Manchester City, officials and players are not giving up on their star player; and have gone extra mile to persuade Yaya Toure to banish the demons of a trophy-less season and remain at the club. The prospect of losing a totem, a midfield cum attacking machine in the calibre of Toure seems unthinkable for the Citizens despite speculations linking a number of high calibre players like Paul Pogba to Etihad.

Embattled coach, Manuel Pellegrini has spoken of his strong desire to have the £220,000-a-week Toure in his squad to challenge for major titles next season but insists that the decision to stay or leave Manchester City would be sorted out in the summer. “It is not my duty to comment on what his agent says. My relationship with Yaya is good and easy. At the end of the season we will analyse and take the best decision for the club and the player,” said the manager.

His colleagues have also been making overtures too. Last week, his fellow national, Wilfried Bony openly begged the star player to shelve his planned summer exit. “I talk to him about his future all the time. He knows what I think. He brought me here so he needs to stay. We all hope he stays…he’s a legend for this club,” Bony disclosed.

As part of the strategy to appease the unsettled Toure, the club management made advance plan to procure customized birthday cake as well as have an aircraft pull a banner over the Etihad Stadium wishing him a ‘Happy 32nd Birthday’ prior to the 6-0 demolition of Queens Park Rangers (QPR). A cross section of fans also carried placard with Happy Birthday messages in their bid to buy back the Ivoirian’s heart.

But there is no sign that his heart has been touched yet or his head turned from the exit direction. And the very clue that Toure is still dancing to the tunes of his agent emerged last week when he refused to speak on the subject when pressed to comment on it. Instead of clearing the air on the speculations surrounding his Etihad career, Toure turned his attention to the issue of racism, urging FIFA to do more to stamp out racism.

“Closing of the stadium or fine…paying £20,000 is not enough for me. We need to do more,” he said, shortly after the world football governing body announced new monitors to combat the problem.

Genesis of Toure Saga

Toure has been a key figure in Manchester City’s last five seasons since he arrived from Barcelona for £24million in 2010, helping the club win two league titles, the FA Cup and Capital One Cup. However, the cosy relationship between the player and club took a plunge in May  2014 when his agent, Dimitri Seluk, made bizarre claims that his client was unhappy with the club’s failure to acknowledge his immense 24 goals contributions for the season with a befitting cake-gift on his 31st birthday.

Seluk also accused City of not allowing him compassionate leave following the death of his younger brother Ibrahim. But, it was the cake row overshadowed Manchester City’s post-season trip to Abu Dhabi to celebrate their Premier League-Capital One Cup double triumph, sparking the first wave of speculation that Toure was heading to exit.

Although, the impasse was later resolved when City produced a belated birthday cake  for Yaya and assured him that such a mistake will not reoccur, the 32 year-old soccer star has failed to reproduce hia last year’s exceptional form, which helped the Citizens win two Premier League titles in three years.

And Wilfreid Bony attributed Yaya Toure’s poor form this season to playing in three international tournaments – two African Nations Cups and the World Cup – over the last three years at less than 100 percent fitness levels. “You have to remember it’s been three years where there have been big tournaments, World Cup and African Cup. You have to play a lot of matches, you are playing in high temperatures, and it’s not easy. Injuries can also occur in that time and the pressure and expectations are high,” Bony argues.

While Toure’s current loss of form and hefty wage-bill may not stop certain top clubs from trying to prize him away, the puzzle remains will he follow his heart by reciprocating the love shown to him at City or zip off with his rabble-rousing manager? Surely, the services of reigning African footballer of the year may still be in high-demand beyond this summer, but one wrong move could bring his blistering career crashing. And when it happens, Seluk would not be at the receiving end of it, but Toure.

However, should the Ivorian superstar have a change of heart and choose to remain at Etihad Stadium next term, he has a big debt to pay the club for going extra mile to please him. He must deliver set silverwares, with the UEFA champion’s league and EPL crowns at the top of the priority list. With City now under UEFA Financial Fair Play redline and other clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal now rubbing shoulder, Toure and company at Etihad face an uphill task in re-enacting the success of the last three seasons. And every eye would be on Toure to ascertain whether he would justify the £220,000 he pockets weekly.



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