February 03, 2018

Guardiola offers Toure prospect of Man City farewell


While the likes of Benjamin Mendy and Raheem Sterling are part of Manchester City's long-term future, time is running out for Yaya Toure.

Pep Guardiola believes Yaya Toure still has a role to play in Manchester City's fight for honours on multiple fronts ahead of his expected departure in June.

Toure left Guardiola's Barcelona to join City in 2010 and has been one of the most influential players in the club's modern history, scoring in Wembley final wins over Stoke City and Sunderland and serving as a star performer in the Premier League title triumphs of 2011-12 and 2013-14.

After initially being out of favour, the veteran Ivory Coast midfielder became central to Guardiola's plans last term but, with City dominating the Premier League title race, it has been a different story this time around.

The 34-year-old's five Premier League appearances have all come from the bench, comprising a mere 89 minutes.

Toure's two Champions League starts against Feyenoord and Shakhtar Donetsk came with qualification for the knockout stages already secured, while he lost his ever-present status in the EFL Cup when Guardiola named a strong side to see off Bristol City in the second leg of last month's semi-final.

Asked about whether an eight-season association with the club will end this term, Guardiola spoke respectfully of a player he rewarded with a one-year contract extension.

"It is not the time to talk about that. Yaya helped us a lot last season and this season played less than the year before but we are going to decide," he told reporters ahead of Saturday's trip to Burnley, where City will kick off 15 points clear at the Premier League summit.

"There are still a lot of games. If I believe and he believes he can play he will have his minutes.

"It depends on him. Last season he was so important for us. Yaya was the only guy whose contract we renewed because he played top.

"Hopefully he can help us until the end of the season because I think we need him."

Guardiola will also look to call upon France left-back Benjamin Mendy before the end of the campaign, with a return to training tentatively pencilled in for next month following rehabilitation from cruciate knee ligament surgery.

"When you have an injury like he had it is always five or six months. And then after six months, immediately you can't play like [your best].

"Hopefully he can play some games and he will be good. But the real Mendy, we will be able to see him next season."

One player who has assumed the type of importance once enjoyed by Toure at City is Raheem Sterling.

The England winger has 19 goals to his name this term but, like his team-mates, had his momentum checked by last month's gripping 4-3 defeat at Liverpool.

Animosity still simmers towards Sterling at Anfield and he was roundly booed throughout an uneven showing before being substituted.

A pair of assists during Wednesday's 3-0 win over West Brom underlined the 23-year-old's worth, although Guardiola saw fit to embrace Sterling after a dreadful miss during the second half.

At Turf Moor last season, Sterling found himself barracked throughout by a section of the Burnley supporter but his manager insists there should be no doubts about his temperament.

"Away, every single game in the Premier League is tough and every player can play not good. It's not a problem," he added.

"At Anfield I understand – emotional things and he is a young player.

"He's shown amazing things on difficult stages this season, home and away. I don't think he is a guy who is scared to take responsibility. He showed many, many good things in those terms."

While the likes of Benjamin Mendy and Raheem Sterling are part of Manchester City's long-term future, time is running out for Yaya Toure.

Pep Guardiola believes Yaya Toure still has a role to play in Manchester City's fight for honours on multiple fronts ahead of his expected departure in June.

Toure left Guardiola's Barcelona to join City in 2010 and has been one of the most influential players in the club's modern history, scoring in Wembley final wins over Stoke City and Sunderland and serving as a star performer in the Premier League title triumphs of 2011-12 and 2013-14.

After initially being out of favour, the veteran Ivory Coast midfielder became central to Guardiola's plans last term but, with City dominating the Premier League title race, it has been a different story this time around.

The 34-year-old's five Premier League appearances have all come from the bench, comprising a mere 89 minutes.

Toure's two Champions League starts against Feyenoord and Shakhtar Donetsk came with qualification for the knockout stages already secured, while he lost his ever-present status in the EFL Cup when Guardiola named a strong side to see off Bristol City in the second leg of last month's semi-final.

Asked about whether an eight-season association with the club will end this term, Guardiola spoke respectfully of a player he rewarded with a one-year contract extension.

"It is not the time to talk about that. Yaya helped us a lot last season and this season played less than the year before but we are going to decide," he told reporters ahead of Saturday's trip to Burnley, where City will kick off 15 points clear at the Premier League summit.

"There are still a lot of games. If I believe and he believes he can play he will have his minutes.

"It depends on him. Last season he was so important for us. Yaya was the only guy whose contract we renewed because he played top.

"Hopefully he can help us until the end of the season because I think we need him."

Guardiola will also look to call upon France left-back Benjamin Mendy before the end of the campaign, with a return to training tentatively pencilled in for next month following rehabilitation from cruciate knee ligament surgery.

"When you have an injury like he had it is always five or six months. And then after six months, immediately you can't play like [your best].

"Hopefully he can play some games and he will be good. But the real Mendy, we will be able to see him next season."

One player who has assumed the type of importance once enjoyed by Toure at City is Raheem Sterling.

The England winger has 19 goals to his name this term but, like his team-mates, had his momentum checked by last month's gripping 4-3 defeat at Liverpool.

Animosity still simmers towards Sterling at Anfield and he was roundly booed throughout an uneven showing before being substituted.

A pair of assists during Wednesday's 3-0 win over West Brom underlined the 23-year-old's worth, although Guardiola saw fit to embrace Sterling after a dreadful miss during the second half.

At Turf Moor last season, Sterling found himself barracked throughout by a section of the Burnley supporter but his manager insists there should be no doubts about his temperament.

"Away, every single game in the Premier League is tough and every player can play not good. It's not a problem," he added.

"At Anfield I understand – emotional things and he is a young player.

"He's shown amazing things on difficult stages this season, home and away. I don't think he is a guy who is scared to take responsibility. He showed many, many good things in those terms."