Yaya Toure may not play for Manchester City again after his agent became embroiled in a heated war of words with manager Pep Guardiola.
The City boss is refusing to pick the midfielder again until his representative, Dimitry Seluk, apologises for media comments.
Guardiola revealed on Tuesday that an interview given by Seluk following Toure’s omission from City’s Champions League squad at the beginning of the month was the reason for his recent exclusion from the side.
Seluk said his client, who has featured just once in eight games this season and is out of contract next summer, had been humiliated by Guardiola’s decision.
Guardiola was unimpressed and said at a press conference that “until he (Seluk) doesn’t speak, Yaya is not going to play”.
But Seluk appears to have no intention of saying sorry and even claimed in a live TV interview that it is the Spaniard who should be apologising. He listed a series of extraordinary complaints against the former Barcelona boss, referring to the the manner he succeeded Manuel Pellegrini in the summer and then replaced goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Seluk told Sky Sports News: “Why must I apologise to Guardiola? I don’t know the words I must apologise for because I didn’t do anything.
“If I feel I must apologise I must apologise, but I don’t feel I must. What Guardiola wants is not possible.
“He must apologise with Yaya and Hart and Pellegrini. Guardiola wins a few games and he thinks he is king.”
Seluk has a long history of making contentious remarks backing Toure. The most notorious of these came in 2014 when he claimed City showed the player a lack of respect on his birthday, not even giving him a cake.
He spoke up again after Guardiola left Toure out of his 25-man squad for the Champions League group stages, an action widely perceived as the latest indicator the 33-year-old does not feature in the manager’s plans.
But it is now apparent Toure is not just out of favour for tactical reasons, as was the case with Hart.
Guardiola, Toure’s coach at Barcelona when he was sold to City in 2010, said: “It was so difficult for me to put him out of the Champions League, so difficult. I know him, I know he’s a good good guy.
“But the day after his manager (agent) spoke. In that moment Yaya is out. I accept if Mr Dimitri Seluk came in a press conference or (spoke to) his friends in the media – because he has not the courage to call me – and apologised to Manchester City, his team-mates and the trainer, when that happens Yaya will be part of the group and he will have the same chance to play all the games.
“I cannot accept as a coach, every manager, when his player doesn’t play, going to the media to speak and speak and speak.”
Seluk, who pointed out Toure can sign a pre-contract agreement with another club in January because he is in the final year of his deal, dismissed this and feels the midfielder deserved more respect.
He said: “When Yaya came to Manchester City, they could only dream about the Champions League. The biggest stars in Europe did not want to come to City but Yaya came. They weren’t a big club.
“After he arrived, they started winning – two league titles, cups and now the semis of the Champions League.”
Guardiola appears to be incredulous at the role of Seluk and does not seem willing to tolerate any interference.
He said: “I cannot imagine in my period when I was a football player, my manager (agent) going to the media and speaking against Johan Cruyff, about this and about that.
“Maybe it’s a new era now, the new period changing, but I’m an old guy. I am old generation, and old generation managers have to make his players his job and trainers his job.
“Today the managers believe they are more then they are. If he has a problem call (director of football) Txiki Begiristain, the club, and they can talk. Until he doesn’t speak, Yaya is not going to play.”
Guardiola was speaking at a press conference to preview Wednesday’s EFL Cup third-round tie at Swansea, a match it was assumed Toure could feature in. The row which developed overshadowed Toure’s separate decision, announced via social media, to retire from international football with Ivory Coast.
Guardiola added that captain Vincent Kompany, out since May with a thigh injury, could return at the Liberty Stadium.