Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure’s career, both for club and country, took two very different turns Tuesday.
The $300,000-a-week star announced he was quitting international football at the same time his club coach threatened to freeze him out for the rest of the season.
After the 33-year-old star announced he was retiring from Ivory Coast duty after a 14-year international career, City coach Pep Guardiola insisted Toure would not feature in his team unless the player apologized for remarks made by his agent, Dimitri Seluk.
Guardiola left Toure out of the club’s UEFA Champions League squad — a move which infuriated Seluk and led to a fierce polemic aimed at the Spaniard.
“I hope that Pep has the balls to say he was wrong to humiliate a great player like Yaya Toure,” Seluk was quoted as saying in an interview with British tabloid the Mirror.
Guardiola could only include 17 overseas players in his squad for Europe’s elite club competition — but had 18 to choose from.
“He must apologize. If he doesn’t, he won’t play,” Guardiola told reporters Tuesday. “A manager has to make his job. If he has a problem, he should speak to people at the club.”
Guardiola, who was Barcelona boss when Toure was sold to City in 2010, added that the player, who returned to training on Monday after suffering with a migraine, had not had the “courage” to call him about Seluk’s comments.
The midfielder has made just one appearance this season and has yet to feature in the Premier League.
Toure, who has won two English titles with the club, is expected to leave the club in June when his contract expires, though his future will also be under scrutiny during the January transfer window.
“I cannot imagine when I was a player that my manager (agent) would go to the media and speak against (former Barcelona coach) Johan Cruyff and say about this and that,” Guardiola said.
“Maybe it is a new period and things are changing. But I am an old guy. In the old generation, the manager has to make his job and the player his job, trainer his job.
“If he has a problem, call the club, and they can talk. Until he speaks, Yaya is not going to play.”
Guardiola’s comments came soon after four-time African player of the year Toure had announced his decision to retire from international football.
Toure, who led the Ivory Coast to glory at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and played at three World Cups, made 113 appearances for his country.
“Writing this note was probably ‘the most difficult match of my life.’ After 14 years at the highest level, I’m sure this is the right time for me.
“The fact that I am 33 now, the intensity of training and the multitude of games are not the reasons why I am making this decision.
“I would like to say solemnly that I am stopping. It’s true that I had several titles at clubs, national cups, league trophies. With the Elephants, it was even more special. I learned to win for my country. That’s why I will always retain the pride in having achieved four African Golden Balls for the Ivory Coast.”
According to Forbes, Toure’s boot sponsorship deal with Puma stipulates part of the endorsement income should be used to give shoes and clothing to underprivileged West Africans.