Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted nothing has changed in his stormy relationship with Yaya Toure although he welcomed the Ivory Coast international’s apology for controversial statements issued by the player’s agent.
The City manager was talking on Friday just hours after Toure issued an apology over his dispute with the Spaniard as he attempted to bring an end to an impasse that has seen him left out of the team since the opening weeks of the season.
Toure’s agent Dimitri Seluk had originally created the problem by criticising Guardiola for his treatment of Toure and other City stars.
But while Guardiola has accepted the apology and Toure is available for selection for the Premier League leaders’ clash with Middlesbrough on Saturday, his hopes of a recall look slim given several in-form players are currently ahead of him in the pecking order at City.
“I spoke with Yaya this morning and of course it is a private conversation so I know what happened, what he said, of course,” said Guardiola at a news conference.
“It’s so important for Manchester City, that’s the most important thing.
“And of course for Yaya, who I appreciate. I have known him for a long time,” said Guardiola, who met Toure when they were both at Barcelona.
“I read what he wrote and that’s all. Of course it’s good news for Manchester City but it’s most important for Yaya as well.
“Yaya was in all our meetings and training sessions. You knew the situation. Nothing changed.”
The relationship between Guardiola, who arrived at City in pre-season, and Toure collapsed after comments from the Ivorian’s controversial agent Seluk which had the City manager demanding an apology before he would consider recalling him to the team.
Seluk accused Guardiola of “humiliating” Toure by leaving him out of the Champions League squad for the current group stage, launching an astonishing personal attack on the manager in the process.
– ‘Misunderstandings’ –
While Toure apologised, his agent may not have helped when he claimed that he had personally not said sorry, but merely called for peace in the feud between the club and his client.
Guardiola was in no mood to clarify the situation when pressed further on Friday, saying: “I answer about Yaya. I am not saying any more.
“I spoke with him, it’s good, that’s all. I’m now focused on Middlesbrough. I know the situation.”
In a statement published earlier on Friday on his website and his Facebook page, Toure said he apologised on behalf of himself and “those who represent me” for all the “misunderstandings from the past”.
He added: “Those statements do not represent my views on the club or the people who work there.
“I have nothing but respect for Manchester City and only wish the best for the football club.”
Toure, who is in the final year of his contract, has been at City since joining from Barcelona in 2010 and has won two Premier League titles, two League Cups and one FA Cup during that time.
Meanwhile Guardiola also denied there was any major altercation between City players and staff and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi following City’s 3-1 midweek Champions League victory over the Catalan side.
Reports claimed a furious Messi was involved in a confrontation with City coach Mikel Arteta.
But Guardiola insisted: “I spoke with Arteta. It’s impossible, he admires so many things about Barcelona, the institution, about Messi in this case.
“And knowing Mikel as I know him, he’s one of the best people I’ve met in my life, it’s impossible that he could have an argument with another excellent person like Messi. Impossible.
“First it was Fernandinho, now it’s Arteta, let’s see who it is tomorrow (Saturday). Let’s see if you finally guess,” added Guardiola sarcastically.