Yaya Toure on a mission to destroy ‘Guardiola myth’

Yaya Touré has embarked on a mission to destroy the “Pep Guardiola myth”. In an interview with France Football magazine, the Ivorian midfielder has accused the coach of having issues with African players throughout his career and ruining his last season at Manchester City.

“Maybe we Africans are not always treated by some in the same way as others,” Toure said in the interview. “I do not know why but I have the impression that he was jealous, he took me for a rival. As if I made him a little shade.

“He was cruel to me. I came to wonder if it was not because of my colour.”

Toure was largely relegated to a watching brief as City stormed to a near-unblemished championship. In total he made 10 appearances in the league, a disappointing way to end his spell considering he was instrumental in guiding the club to its first two Premier League titles. In that latter season, 2013-14, he was chosen as the side’s player of the year. Despite being a feature in the Caribou Cup run, he was also left out of the successful final win against Arsenal.

The Ivorian found himself in Manchester in the first place after Guardiola sold him once he had made it clear that he no longer had a place at Barcelona. The two had won the Champions League together only a year earlier.

Now, Touré says their might be others who have played for the Catalan that would share his viewpoint.

“I am not the first to talk about these differences in treatment. In Barca, some have also asked the question. When we realise he often has problems with Africans wherever he goes, I ask myself questions.”

“I think I was dealing with someone who just wanted revenge on me. I do not know why but I have the impression that he was jealous of me, that he took me for a rival. There you have it. We always looked at each other weirdly. He was spinning around me without saying anything, watching me, gauging me but not talking to me. Yet he knows that I speak Catalan, Spanish and English. It should be enough to communicate. But apparently no … Every time we passed each other, he seemed embarrassed. As if I made him a little self-conscious. As if, also, he had understood that I knew him perfectly.”

Guardiola has a long history of falling out with some of the major names of the game. A year before Touré was let go at Barca, the coach revealed that his gut was telling him to let go of Samuel Eto’o despite the fact he had just spearheaded a treble win. The Cameroonian was traded to Inter Milan but ultimately continued to prove his class as he went on to win the Champions League under Jose Mourinho with the Italians.

The player going in the other direction didn’t end up having much love for Guardiola either. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a spectacular flop at the Catalans, largely blaming the preference to play Lionel Messi in his preferred central attacking role. “A few months after [the season’s kick-off]],” the Swede claims. “’The philosopher didn’t speak to me anymore.”

Both Manchester City and Guardiola are yet to comment.

Toure continued: “He insists he has no problems with black players, because he is too intelligent to be caught out. But when you realise that he has problems with Africans, wherever he goes, I ask myself questions. He will never admit it. But the day he will line up a team in which we find five Africans, not naturalised, I promise I will send him a cake.”

“I want to be the one who breaks the myth of Guardiola.”

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham

Luke Feltham runs the Mail & Guardian's sports desk. He was previously the online day editor.

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