Pep Guardiola has admitted he did not feel Yaya Toure could deliver the intensity required for Manchester City’s start to the season.
The new City manager sparked speculation over the midfielder’s future by leaving him out of his matchday squad for Saturday’s season-opening Premier League win over Sunderland.
Guardiola may now have added further fuel to that by leaving 33-year-old Toure out of the travelling party for the first leg of City’s Champions League play-off at Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday.
Guardiola, who was Barcelona coach when the Catalans sold Toure to City in 2010, said: “He is a player for us and he is training amazing, but I was not sure if he was going to play, and so I prefer it if he stays there training good in Manchester.
“We travelled with two young guys and for the selection I prefer it to be the young guys than Yaya Toure.
“I prefer it if he stays there training and focuses on the next game. I have a lot of respect of him, for his career and quality, but for the first days – against Sunderland – we were looking for a more intensive game. That is why he didn’t play, the only reason why.”
Guardiola also made headlines at the weekend by dropping long-time City and England number one Joe Hart to the bench.
The reason he gave was that he wanted his goalkeeper to play with his feet more and he felt Willy Caballero, who returned for pre-season training ahead of Hart, was more attuned to the situation.
Questions are now being asked over Hart’s future at the club. The 29-year-old has travelled to the Romanian capital but it remains to be seen whether he is restored to the side.
City have been linked with other goalkeepers, with Barcelona’s number two Claudio Bravo being the latest, but Guardiola was unable to discuss any such reports.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference at the Arena Nationala. Guardiola said: “I think it is not the moment to talk about players who are not in Manchester City. They are players for another club.
“I am not going to talk, one day before one of the most important games of the season, about transfers.”
Guardiola, however, is pleased how Hart has dealt with the situation.
He said: “Since I am manager of Manchester City, from the time we were together with Joe, it was perfect – his behaviour, his training sessions, on the pitch, off the pitch. He is a big professional.”
City laboured to victory over Sunderland but some of Guardiola’s ideas were eye-catching and he is convinced his approach will come good.
He said: “We are optimistic to at the end of playing the football I want, playing as good as possible. After that the result is coming.
“The first target is to try to play good for our fans who go to the stadium and they can say, ‘Wow, I like how the team plays’. That is how I would like to feel.”
Victory for City in the two-legged tie against Steaua would take them into the group stage.
Guardiola said: “I saw enough games about Steaua. I have a lot of respect about how they play and how they do and we are going to try to score goals because in the Champions League, scoring goals away is so, so important.”
City’s press conference was also John Stones’ first since his £47.5million move from Everton last week.
The 22-year-old, who made his City debut at the weekend, said: “I just want to show everyone what I can do and earn my place and that is what I am here to do, to work hard in training and to get that starting spot.”