It’s not often you get to revisit an old story as if it’s new. Back in October 2014, writing about the birthday gate scandal and all things Yaya (The Trouble with Touré), The Football Reflective concluded it was time to get behind a midfielder that had just provided 24 goals and pushed the team to a league and cup double. The recommendation was given while acknowledging his misdemeanours.
Like all bad offenders, trouble has reared its head once again.
The escalation to a standoff between manager Pep Guardiola and Yaya has been a few weeks in the making. As ever, the Ivorian’s agent, Dimitri Seluk, placed a pivotal part in proceedings. He fanned the flames when he said his client had been “humiliated” following his exclusion from Manchester City’s Champions League squad.
Going as far to claim the Spaniard would owe Touré a personal apology should the club fail to lift the trophy this season.
It was classic goading, that until now, Pep was right to ignore. A manager lives and dies by his big decisions but the world has already seen none will be shied away from during the reshaping of the Etihad outfit. It’s also reasonable to assume that like Joe Hart, Yaya would have been informed he was down the pecking order, and in his personal case, unlikely to feature in the UEFA squad.
Unlike Joe Hart, Touré and his agent lack any semblance of dignity or respect.
It had always been a suspicion that the birthday cake debacle was a rouse to manufacture a move when Yaya’s stock was at its highest. This time the pair needed to play a different game for the maximum financial return.
In the year that will see Paul Pogba’s agent earn more than Cristiano Ronaldo, Dimitri Seluk obviously fancied one last big pay day. The final milking of his own personal cash cow.
By remaining under the radar, appearing to favour the fight for his City place, meant the summer transfer window slammed shut, locking club and player in a £220,000-a-week contract. That is fine, it’s a two-way street. Contracts give security and in a perfect world are honoured by both parties unless a reasonable way to part is offered.
In 2014 City said they were not prepared to sell Yaya, hence, they used that binding contract to their advantage. Part of that choice would have been to assert authority over players, to prove the club couldn’t be dictated to. Back when they took that stance they were prepared to be out of pocket to make the point.
Seluk knows this, and knows last time his planned was foiled.
Rather than face a second defeat, he’s hoping he can create enough of a storm so that City pay off the majority of Touré’s contract, freeing up a move to another club. He could then sell the idea to the next club that Yaya should get an even larger signing on bonus in lieu of a transfer fee.
Any doubts finally have faded away: Yaya Touré and Dimitri Seluk are driven by greed first. Football interests come way down the list (below cakes and call girls).
In a desperate attempt to further incite the club, Seluk has made outlandish claims to The Mirror, calling into question Pep’s ability as coach. Claiming he inherited teams and didn’t improve Bayern Munich. Guardiola’s start to life in the Premier League has offered just a glimpse into the unique talent he possesses.
Pep hasn’t just improved Manchester City in his short time as manager, he’s reinventing the English game before our eyes.
Seluk’s attack comes at the end of Touré’s sick note for a migraine. They can be unpleasant but Pep has taken offence at the midfielder’s lack of courage to pick up a phone and tell him he was under the weather.
For a no-nonsense manager, the hint of silly games is enough to lay the law down fast. Reminding the world what his agent had said about humiliation, Guardiola demanded the team and fans receive an apology for those comments. Until that happens, Touré won’t play again.
It may seem that phase one of Seluk’s plan is complete – but he’d be wrong.
Manchester City can afford to let Yaya rot, albeit at the cost of £220,000-a-week, more than agent and player can afford to watch a whole season of football pass them by when the talent is in severe decline. Yaya was never the most mobile player and he’s no spring chicken. Time is working against him.
The club will back Pep with any decision. For too long bad attitudes in the dressing room have dictated performance on the pitch. No longer will this be the case. City have a General happy to exert authority over all of his troops. They’ll be no Carlos Tevez style climb-down here.
Yaya apologises or he will never pull on a City shirt again.
It’s a sad end to a player that should be remembered as one of City’s all-time greats. But Citizens value character, personality and correct application as high – sometimes higher – than ability. Despite his contribution over the years, Yaya Touré has failed with his traits as a professional.
The real trouble with Yaya isn’t his greed, or his conceited agent, or even his couldn’t care less approach to legacy.
It’s his stupidity.
Stupid to think he can win a war with Pep. Stupid to think he would benefit financially. Stupid to tarnish his legacy with City’s loyal fans.
It will haunt him in years to come, when as an old man, he realises all the cash in the world doesn’t wipe out the debt caused by the irrevocable damage these decisions have done to the game’s lasting memory of Yaya Touré.