Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has reserved great praise for his Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure, claiming that the player is good enough to play for any club team of his choosing.
Toure, a four-time African Player of the Year, has experienced a turbulent season with the Citizens during 2016-17, beginning Guardiola’s reign at City with a soured relationship before things drastically improved, and he is now once again an indispensable member of the first team.
Toure was out of favour with his Spanish coach following an early season spat between the the tactician and player’s controversial agent, Dimitri Seluk.
The 33-year-old was not aware that he would be left out of the 21-man squad for his club’s charge in the UEFA Champions League in the early stages of the campaign, and Toure’s agent described the situation as humiliating for his client.
Since then matters have escalated between Seluk and Guardiola, leading to Toure’s exile from the team, pending an apology from the agent.
Seluk refused to apologise, but Toure took matters into his own hands towards the end of 2016 to apologise for the behaviour of his representative.
The experienced midfielder, who earns around $293,000 per week at the club, finally returned to the starting lineup for a match against Crystal Palace in November, and made the most of his opportunity with two fine finishes in a 2-1 victory to prove that he still has a great deal to give at club level.
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Since then he has been a consistent performer for the club, regaining the trust and respect of Guardiola, who has now admitted that his midfielder could feature for any club in world soccer.
“He [Toure] can play for big, big clubs. He can play wherever he wants,” Guardiola admitted, according to AfricanFootball.
“He has a big personality and this season, he is helping me by playing top, top football. He will play football until he decides because he loves playing. He enjoys playing and loves playing games. When that happens, he will decide,” the Spaniard added.
The conversation was in reference to the fact that Toure’s contract at Manchester City runs out at the end of the current season, and if he does not sign an extension with the club, he will be a free agent, able to move to a team without a signing fee, which is rare for such quality players.
“The focus now needs to be on winning games and competitions. We will talk about everything else at the end of the season,” Guardiola said.