6th January 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Considering Yaya Toure was exiled from Pep Guardiola’s plans at the beginning of the season, in large part due to his agent’s outspoken, often bizarre comments, it’s quite the turnaround to see him cutting a key figure in the tactical genius’ plans now.
The calamitous situation all began when Toure’s agent, Dimitri Seluk, claimed that Guardiola had a vendetta against his client for not regularly selecting him, before then adding that the Spaniard was “humiliating a great player”.
All it took was an apology from Seluk and Toure, who had also been excluded from Manchester City’s Champions League squad for the group stage, in November, however, and this gave him the gateway he needed to return to the fold. “I wish to apologise — on behalf of myself and those who represent me — to the management team and all those working at the club for the misunderstandings from the past,” Toure’s statement read.
“Those statements do not represent my views on the club or the people who work there. I have nothing but respect for Manchester City and only wish the best for the football club.”
The former Barcelona enforcer stylishly marked his comeback in emphatic fashion too by scoring a match winning double vs Crystal Palace to get his side over the line in his first EPL outing this term. Upon returning to the dressing room after his masterclass, the Ivorian even received a standing ovation from his teammates, something that certainly signified that he was now well and truly back. “It was fantastic because these guys have always been there for me. I was keeping smiling and always focused,” a delighted Toure said after the match.
“The situation was very difficult but I’m very glad and thank you [to] the manager for letting me play today. I belong to the field and I’m very happy to be in there. I always say I want to help the club and help my teammates — that’s very important.
“I like how they gave me a standing ovation. If we end the season winning the title it’s going to be massive.”
Since then he’s steadily gone about consolidating his place within the side, which has been aided by Ilkay Gundogan’s season ending injury, and regaining his manager’s trust. The fact he’s now featured nine times in the league, including seven starts, has accurately depicted what a trusted and vital player Pep now sees him as.
He’s almost been like a new signing, except he’s one that crucially comes with a wealth of experience and the knowledge of what it takes to win. Incredibly, the 33-year-old’s actually been a part of all of the trophies the Sky Blues have won in modern times, which is a testament to, not only his quality, but also his longevity at the club.
The man who’s won a league title in four separate countries and been crowned African Footballer of the Year a whopping four times is now desperate to kick on and secure the 2016/17 Premier League title with City, which would be his third. Although it’ll be difficult given Chelsea’s current form and the overall strength of the league, Toure remains hopeful and is embracing the challenge ahead. “I like the challenge, I love a challenge. I want to make something very important. I have already won two Premier League titles and I want more than that, another new story,” he explained.
Despite the enforced lay-off, the burly midfielder importantly kept fit and sharp by constantly working on his game, and this has paid off handsomely, for it’s given him the perfect platform to hit the ground running upon being recalled to have an immediate impact.
“I feel 20 now. My role is to keep the team moving, win the ball, organise, talk to the players, I have the experience. We are a team that wants to play football but sometimes you have to tell the players to be careful, especially on the counterattack,” a reinvigorated Toure told the Guardian.
With his current deal set to expire next summer and having ruled out a move away from the Etihad in January, the rejuvenated and reborn Toure will seek to make the most of the final few months of his time at City.
While the title seems a long shot at present, you never know, Toure just might be the man City need to get their title tilt back on track.
Whatever happens, it’ll be fascinating to see how the end of his seventh year at his beloved Man City pans out and what the future holds for the domineering star.
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