Yaya Toure should go down in history as one of Manchester City’s greatest ever players.
He is one of the most exceptional Premier League players in the 25-year history of the division, but Toure has allowed his Ukrainian agent Dimitri Seluk to continue destroying his legacy as he looks to offend Manchester City on a near monthly basis since 2014.
The Ivorian has played an enormous role in the incredible journey at the Etihad Stadium in the last seven seasons– scoring some unforgettable and priceless goals during that time. Now heading towards the end of his career, his agent looks set to destroy a legacy Toure has worked so hard to establish.
Seluk was vice-president of Metalurh Donetsk before he was taken over by a substantial Ukrainian industrialist in the mid-2000’s. The new owner allowed Seluk to take a punt on half a dozen young Africans. Among them was Toure, a young Ivorian who struggled to settle into the major leagues in Europe due to difficulties obtaining a work permit.
It is hard to overstate how keen Manchester City were to take on Toure, Seluk’s golden boy, when in 2010 they looked for the big names who would not only make them winners but also establish them as a football club for whom winners would sign. City had previously been turned down by David Villa in 2008, John Terry in 2009, Samuel Eto’o in 2010 before the club managed to secure Toure on a reported £220k-a-week contract over five-years.
With a clean sweep of domestic medals, including two Premier League gongs, two Capital One Cup successes and an FA Cup triumph, Toure has been a significant part of a golden era at the Etihad Stadium and proved well worthy of his lucrative contract.
Mario Balotelli got the Man of the Match award for the 2011 FA Cup final, but it was Toure who scored the goal. He scored at Wembley in the 2014 Capital One Cup final against Sunderland, too.
Toure’s brace in a 2-0 win at St James’ Park the week before City’s most famous game against QPR in 2012 proved crucial. This came against a Newcastle side that had won six of their previous seven.
In the 2013/14 season, Toure’s 20 goals from midfield delivered his team the title. It was an extraordinary campaign for the Ivorian, but it was Luis Suarez who walked away with the PFA Player Of The Year award. Now, ever since the birthday cake fiasco back in the summer of 2014, his legacy has been in danger of falling apart.
Toure’s loyalty to Seluk has infuriated City fans, with his lack of denial on his agent’s comments in recent years. To Yaya, Seluk is the man who took him under his wing when he was a struggling teenager and who found himself playing in an unusual world of Ukrainian football. His loyalty knows no bounds because of this.
The summer of 2014 saw the agent at his criminal worst: “City have treated him with disrespect and have really hurt him,” he said.
“There are a number of things that have happened that have left Yaya feeling bitterly upset.”
Bare in mind this came on after Toure’s most successful career. Toure became the peacemaker between the two parties, ultimately denying that a personal joke over a birthday cake suddenly blossomed into football’s most significant talking point.
But publicly, Toure has had more than one opportunity to stop all this and decided against it in 2014 by tweeting: “Everything Dimitri said is true.”
Toure then went onto state that it was Seluk that tweeted the infamous words and deleted the tweet, but it still sits in the memories of the Etihad faithful.
Birthday-cake gate was not the first instance of Seluk’s abrupt controversy as in April 2013; the Ukrainian claimed that the club didn’t appreciate Toure after City had made it to the FA Cup final. Seluk gave City an ultimatum that unless his client received a new deal, he would be forced to find another club for his client – City refused to bow down to his commands and provided Toure with a new contract when the club entered a new regime, not when Seluk demanded one.
Most recently he has claimed his grandmother would have won the league with Bayern Munich and that Guardiola cannot handle prominent personalities in players.
Now, Pep Guardiola has wasted little time in asserting his command throughout Manchester City since his appointment as manager. Regardless of the legacy, Guardiola does not suffer fools likely and has confirmed that Toure would not play for Manchester City again until his agent apologized in mid-2016.
In recent years, Toure has been held in such high regard the debate has rung whether he was more beneficial to City than the club’s greatest ever player – Colin Bell.
After all this controversy, there must be an excellent reason why the player chooses to side with his agent rather than move him on and get on with the business of playing for a manager who, by his admission, has no personal issue with Toure.
Seluk is destroying the relationship Toure has worked so hard for and fought so rigorously to achieve, but the Ivorian is undoubtedly maintaining his relationship with the man who is ruining his career but also the one who helped find him as a teenager.