The Manchester City fans in the Transfer Tavern are hoping their side can secure a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a victory over Napoli on Wednesday night.
The Citizens travel to Naples with a perfect record in Group F, knowing a win will guarantee their side a place in the knockout stages of the competition. In the reverse fixture two weeks ago, City held off a late fight back from the Serie A leaders to claim an impressive 2-1 victory and further boost their credentials to win the competition next May. Thus far, City have claimed a maximum possible 9 points from their opening 3 matches without needing to call upon the services of Yaya Toure.
Toure, who has won the African Player of the Year award four times in his illustrious career, has fallen down Guardiola’s pecking order this season. He has only managed two starts for the club, both of which were in the Caraboa Cup where Guardiola has been handing opportunities to players on the fringes of his first-team squad.
With Toure so desperately out of favour, rumours linking him with a move away from the club are naturally beginning to emerge. La Gazzetta Dello Sport are reporting that the Ivorian is open to a move to Serie A in the future, after he was quoted saying ‘never say never in life’ in response to rumours linking him with a move to Italy.
Guardiola’s team selections in recent months strongly suggest that Toure is surplus to requirements at the club, but that is all set to change in the coming months. City should keep hold of Toure for the remainder of the season until his contract expires in June 2018.
Given Ilkay Gundogan’s desperately unfortunate record with injuries, City should not be willing to part with Toure in January, as Fernandinho is the only recognised central midfielder on their books whilst Delph deputises for the injured Mendy at left-back.
In Guardiola’s debut season, Toure was not selected in the first-team squad until mid-November, when he announced his return to the Premier League with a headline-making brace during a 1-2 victory away at Crystal Palace. It would be no surprise to see Toure return out of the blue in similar fashion this season, when Guardiola feels the time is right to re-introduce him to first-team action in the Premier League.
At 34 years of age, Toure no longer has the fitness to regularly play 90 minutes of football across an entire season, so by allowing him to rest during the opening months, Guardiola is tactically maximising the fitness potential of his squad, which in turn will boost their chances of silverware.
Considering Toure’s acrimonious past in the media relating to highly trivial issues, it is extremely surprising to hear so little by way of complaint from the Ivorian regarding his recent lack of game time. If Toure truly believed he was being mistreated or felt he was not going to get an opportunity this year, then the public would know about it by now.
History is certain to repeat itself this season and City fans should expect to see Yaya Toure back in Premier League action by the new year. In spite of all this, there is no chance City will be extending Toure’s contract beyond June 2018, so a move to Serie A is only likely to come to fruition during the summer window after he has given the blue half of Manchester one final send-off.