Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola: Yaya Toure could join a Premier League rival

The midfielder is leaving City at the end of the season.

Pep Guardiola believes Yaya Toure could be back at the Etihad Stadium playing against Manchester City next season.

Toure is preparing to make his final appearance at the ground as a City player as the champions host Brighton in the Premier League on Wednesday.

The veteran midfielder has been one of City’s most inspirational players since joining the club in 2010 and, even though his appearances have been limited this season, Guardiola thinks he could still shine elsewhere.

Guardiola said: “Football players make clubs bigger and bigger and without doubt he was, and is, one of the most important players in our history.

“Of course I took the decisions this season depending on what I saw every day in the training sessions, but nothing changed my opinions (of him).

“He was the only guy last season who, when his contract finished, we extended for one more year, because we believed he could help us this season.

“His behaviour was good. We don’t have complaints about what happened this season. I wish him well and hopefully he can stay in world football, if he desires, and maybe come back here or another place.”

Asked if he felt Toure could still deliver in the the Premier League, Guardiola said: “Yes, he can.”

Football players make clubs bigger and bigger and without doubt he was, and is, one of the most important players in our history Pep Guardiola on Yaya Toure

Guardiola was speaking at a press conference to preview the Brighton game, which will feature a number of tributes to 34-year-old Toure.

Toure, who joined City from Guardiola’s former club Barcelona, played a starring role in the title successes of 2012 and 2014, as well as the FA Cup win in 2011 and League Cup triumphs of 2014 and 2016.

His position began to look uncertain after Guardiola’s arrival in 2016 when the manager fell out with the player’s agent, leading to a period of exclusion from the team. That issue was resolved, and Toure went on to earn a contract extension in the second half of the campaign, but he has made just seven starts in all competitions this term.

As he now prepares to move on, Guardiola says his place in the club’s history should be strongly recognised.

He said: “He helped this club make a step forward and hopefully we can make a good game and dedicate it to him. Tomorrow we are going to play for Yaya.

“Yaya is beloved in the locker room, for the old guys, the young guys. He deserves the respect from the others, no doubt about that.

“He came in the (Roberto) Mancini era and after that Manuel (Pellegrini). For the two leagues they won he was decisive, so so important.

“I am not the right guy to say to him what is the best for him. He will choose the best for him but I think if he has still the desire to play he is going to play.”

Press Association

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