PEP GUARDIOLA: YAYA TOURE’S BLESSING AND CURSE

In a sense, you could say Pep Guardiola lifted the lid that enabled
Yaya Toure to wriggle free and propel his way to the heights of
footballing greatness although, of course, that isn’t credit either
Toure or his outspoken agent, Dimitri Seluk, would be too willing to
give the Catalan.

Still, Guardiola claims it alright, regardless of the fact that he had
catalyzed Toure’s career rather unwittingly.

After a trophy-laden first two years in charge of FC Barcelona, during
which the club bagged every type of silverware that mattered,
Guardiola decided Toure was one of the players he’d cut loose going
forward. The actual reason, as was speculated by the media and debated
among fans, could have been anything, really, but chiefly a
personality clash [between two quiet geniuses who could get really
feisty when pushed] that may have resulted in irreconciliable
differences was cited.

It’s actually the school of thought Toure himself, after his
departure, promoted for a while.

“Whenever I asked him something, he always gave strange answers,”
Toure told ONA FM with respect to his relationship with Guardiola at
Barcelona. “He pretty much ignored me until [Manchester] City’s offer
came in. That’s why I eventually opted to leave. I didn’t speak to
Guardiola for a year.

“If he had talked to me, I would have stayed at Barcelona. I did not
want to go and wanted to end my career at Barcelona. However, he had
no faith in me.”

Yaya not wanted
Yaya Toure claims that being frozen out by Barcelona’s coach Pep Guardiola was the main reason for leaving the Camp Nou in 2010.

In truth, though, it may not have been any malicious motive on
Guardiola’s side (the former Barca skipper even claimed trying to
convince Toure to stay). Not even close, as Sky Sports’ Spanish
football pundit Terry Gibson opines.

“I think Pep just trusted [Sergio] Busquets more,” Gibson explains.
“We didn’t know Busquets at the time. But Pep had been the [Barca] B
team manager and he knew what Busquets could do and he trusted him
from the start. Compared to Busquets, Toure was more of a box-to-box
player.”

Busquets, on the other hand, was a man who’d stay just where Guardiola
wanted him, inconspicuously working deep in midfield for his mentor
and for other Barcelona managers after him. It’s why Toure completed
90 minutes just nine times during the 2009/10 campaign and promptly
took his chance to flee his misery when City came knocking with a £24m
price, with the Azulgrana making little effort not to cash in.

Needless to say, that exit wouldn’t go down too well with Toure who,
after a relatively rough beginning in Europe during which he’d
represented less glamorous clubs, was finally enjoying some stability
with arguably the finest side in the world at the time. The big
Ivorian didn’t have to like it and, indeed, he never did. And while
Guardiola didn’t exactly drag a wailing Toure out of Camp Nou, it’s
unlikely the pair have exchanged Christmas cards in the years that
have followed.

yaya whaaat
Yaya Toure might find himself in an awkward spot after learning that his former boss Pep Guardiola will be taking over Manchester City next summer

Not that Toure would have cause to complain, though, as hindsight
certainly vindicates his switch to Eastlands. Success may not come as
naturally to City as it does to Barca but, with Toure elevated from
Guardiola’s rejected piece of rock to a formidable cornerstone, the
reborn Citizens have fetched a good measure of it, raking in a
remarkable haul of domestic trophies over the years and making a
continental impression as well. Toure himself has admitted feeling no
worse than a bird let out of its cage — free, uninhibited and
empowered.

“Since coming to City I have enjoyed my football more because my game
is all about attack and what I did at Barcelona was quite different,”
he says.

No longer the man compressed into a make-shift centre-back on arguably
the biggest night of his club career — the 2009 Uefa Champions League
final — Toure has grown more active in the offensive sphere, yielding
a goalscoring form that has drawn him towards the biggest personal
laurels, including a run of four successive African Footballer of the
Year prizes.

Sadly, though, Toure’s streak of prominence may soon end, with City
announcing the arrival of Guardiola — who himself later moved on in
quest of fresh pastures with German giants Bayern Munich — at the
Etihad Stadium in the summer. It’s uncertain if Toure would like to
play for a man who never really appreciated his full value duirng
their previous working experience, and Seluk — ever protective of his
client — has made that clear, questioning incoming Guardiola’s
‘balls’ and his ability to “win without Yaya [at City].”

“I don’t know what Guardiola’s plans are, but — after what happened
at Barcelona — of course it is a worry that when he comes Yaya will
be out,” the Ukrainian said at a point earlier this year when talk of
Guardiola taking over at City was particularly rife.

pep exit door
Is Pep showing Yaya the door? Yaya Toure is set to quit Manchester City after Pep Guardiola was confirmed as their new boss, his agent Dimitry Seluk has revealed.

Once more, though, it may again prove largely a case of Guardiola not
wanting Toure around, only that, this time, it mightn’t just be the
midfielder’s playing style that could put Guardiola off — his
advancing age would as well. With Guardiola’s unwavering belief in
youth and City seeking to bulk up for the future, a 32-year-old heart
may not be strong enough to bear the weight of the club’s ambitions.
Toure would thus well be forced to move on and, at his age, the best
deals would come from, you know, America, Down Under, the Far East,
the Middle East, etc. And, with that plunge into obscurity, everything
else — bar the cash — leaving Barcelona has brought him will slip
from his grasp, providing the final chapter in the bittersweet story
Toure would narrate someday of how Guardiola, the man who may have
helped him to the pinnacle of the sport, robbed him of it all in the
end.

By: Sammie Frimpong

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