Yaya Toure: I’m rich, successful and sick of football – but does he have a point?

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has poured his heart out in a stunning interview with French sports newspaper L’Equipe.
“Everyone thinks that I’m happy,” said Toure, who added that he is “sick of football”. “I’ve won titles, earned lots of money, but no, I’m not happy.”

The Ivory Coast star also told the publication of his “disgust” at how he is treated by the British press, suggesting that he was hauled over the coals unfairly last season. “I scored 12 goals even though I had to leave my club to join my national team who were taking part in the African Nations Cup. I was away for almost two months and they reproach me for not having scored as many goals as the season before?” he said.

“The season before, as it happens, I scored 26 goals—20 in the Premier League—and nobody mentioned it. You can understand my disgust a little bit.” Toure also defended both his wages – reportedly around £200,000 a week – and his motivation for moving to City in the first place. “Journalists talked about my salary, saying it was a disgrace. But I only came to the club to help it develop and to win titles. A lot of people — beasts, I have to say — made fun of me when I said that. “They asked what I, Yaya Toure, was going to change at City. And did you see what happened after that? We won nearly everything. “I did it, we did it because I was not alone, of course, but no one said a thing. It’s a bit disgusting. “These people are not very smart. I do not have the habit of doing interviews, I only say what I think.

“I’ve suffered for years, and now I have decided to talk. I mean everything.” Toure also hit out at his critics in his native Ivory Coast, who have questioned his commitment to the national side that he helped win the African Cup of Nations this year, referring to himself as “the most insulted player” on the team. “With the Ivory Coast, it is the same … When you see people hate you when you come to defend the your country’s colours, it hurts you. “I was denigrated, even through songs, politicians began to insult me. It hurts a lot. The national team doesn’t have anything to do with football any more. I love my country. If that was not the case, if I resented [my country], yes, I would have said ‘I quit’.”

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IS TOURE RIGHT TO GRUMBLE?

Toure really does have a point about being unfairly criticised. Last season there was a spell when he was blasted for having apparently lost interest in City, with some calling for him to be dropped. Any cool-headed analysis – as we ran on this very website, in fact – showed such assertions to be utter nonsense. Sadly, cool-headed analysis rarely wins the day with tabloid newspaper editors, and Toure’s supposed flakiness was blamed for City falling short against Chelsea in the last campaign. And he’s quite right about some of the other things he says: he was scorned as a mercenary on his arrival at Manchester City, but has been one of three players (along with Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero) who have been absolutely, definitively critical in City winning two league titles and two domestic cups in the last five years.

SO HE’S SPOT ON THEN?

We never said that. When you take Toure’s goals-per-game ratio from last season, it still wasn’t what it was – but more to the point, he wasn’t the same player around the pitch as he had been in 2013-14 either. Even Manuel Pellegrini said as much. “Last season was a strange season for Yaya,” the City boss said in August. “He started the season with a lot of problems, the death of his brother, afterwards there was a lot of problems with his agents, so I think that he was not focused on what he had to do last year. “But we spoke a lot before the season and I am sure we are going to see the same Yaya we saw a couple of seasons ago.”

ANYTHING ELSE?

There’s also the small matter of his claim that nobody recognised his achievements for City’s title-winning campaign of 2013-14. Considering that he was named in every single Team of the Season that we’ve managed to dig up, and that he was third (behind only one-man-teams Luis Suarez and Eden Hazard) in the PFA Player of the Year voting, it’s hard to see how much more recognition he would have wanted. Birthday cakes aside, obviously.

SO ALL THIS PROBABLY WON’T WIN HIM MANY FRIENDS, THEN…

Absolutely. If there’s one thing that puts fans’ backs up it’s highly-paid footballers grumbling about their lot. Toure himself must know this – and the PR people whom he no doubt consulted ahead of the interview certainly will have done – so we can only imagine the depths of his angst he must have plumbed to speak out in this manner.

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