MANCHESTER, England — Yaya Toure retired from international football with the Ivory Coast on Tuesday — and won’t be playing again for Manchester City either unless his agent apologizes for comments about club coach Pep Guardiola.
The midfielder’s representative, Dimitri Seluk, recently said Guardiola humiliated his client by leaving him out of City’s squad for the Champions League group stage
That irritated Guardiola, who said that since then “Yaya is out.”
“I accept if Mr. Dimitri Seluk came in a press conference or (spoke to) his friends in the media — because he has not the courage to call me — and apologized to Manchester City, his teammates, and the trainer,” Guardiola said.
“When that happens, Yaya will be part of the group and he will have the same chance to play all the games.”
Until then, the 33-year-old Toure won’t be adding to his one appearance this season, a virtually dead match in the Champions League playoffs. He didn’t even make the substitutes’ bench for City’s other seven matches so far. City has won all eight games.
“What do I need to apologize for?” Seluk told Sky Sports. “Guardiola wins a few games and he thinks he is king.
“I don’t say anything special, and secondly, I live in a democratic country where I can say what I want. Guardiola won’t tell me what I say and what I won’t say. My opinion is my opinion.”
An integral part of City’s team since signing for the English club in 2010, Toure struggled for form last season and isn’t deemed fit enough by Guardiola to play City’s high-energy pressing game in the Spanish coach’s first season at Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola previously coached Toure at Barcelona, and sold him to City.
Now City coach, Guardiola has showed he is not afraid of taking on big personalities at the club, having also sent longtime goalkeeper Joe Hart on loan to Torino for the rest of the season.
“I cannot imagine in my period when I was a football player (at Barcelona), my (agent) going to the media and speaking against (former Barca coach) Johan Cruyff, about this and about that,” Guardiola said. “Maybe it’s a new era now, the new period changing, but I’m an old guy. I am old generation, and (an) old-generation manager has to make his players his job and trainers his job.”
Seluk is an outspoken agent, and even complained in 2014 that City showed Toure — a four-time African player of the year — a lack of respect by not giving him a cake for his 31st birthday.
“Today, (agents) believe they are more than they are,” Guardiola said. “If he has a problem call (director of football) Txiki Begiristain, the club, and they can talk. Until he doesn’t speak, Yaya is not going to play.”
Seluk said he believes Guardiola should respect City’s history and called on the coach to also apologize to both Toure and Hart.
Hours before Guardiola spoke out, Toure announced in a statement on his Twitter page that he would no longer play for Ivory Coast.
He played 113 times for his country, captaining the Ivorians to the Africa Cup of Nations title last year.
“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,” Toure wrote. “Football is everything to me, and it gave me so much in my career that I no longer feel able to set myself new goals as a player with the Elephants of Ivory Coast.”