Yaya Toure accuses Pep Guardiola of discriminating against African players

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Yaya Toure and Pep Guardiola have had their differences over the years, both at Manchester City and <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/barcelona/" data-ylk="slk:Barcelona">Barcelona</a>. (Getty)
Yaya Toure and Pep Guardiola have had their differences over the years, both at Manchester City and Barcelona. (Getty)

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has accused manager Pep Guardiola of having “problems with Africans” as he prepares to leave the club this summer.

Toure unleashed the accusation in an interview with France Football magazine set to be published Tuesday.

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Toure played under Guardiola at both City and Barcelona, but left both clubs after two seasons under the Spanish boss.

“He was cruel with me,” Toure told France Football. “Do you really think he could’ve been like that with [Spanish midfielder] Andres Iniesta? It got to the point I asked myself if it was because of my color. I’m not the first, other Barca players asked the question too.”

Guardiola’s Barcelona teams, which won three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues in four years, featured a few players of African descent, but only two who represented African nations internationally – Toure, who is Ivorian, and Mali international Seydou Keita.

“Maybe us Africans aren’t always treated the same by certain people,” Toure said. “When you see the problems [Pep] has often had with African players, everywhere he has been, I ask myself questions.

“He’s too intelligent to be caught. He’ll never admit [to not liking Africans]. But the day he picks a team with five Africans in it, I promise I will send him a cake!”

Toure, 35, spent eight accolade-filled seasons at Manchester City, but as he aged and his performances fell off, he fell out of favor.

His decline coincided with Guardiola’s arrival in the summer of 2016. After making no fewer than 37 appearances in all competitions in each of his first six seasons, Toure made just 31 in Guardiola’s first in charge, and only 17 this past year. He started only one Premier League game as the Citizens smashed records and romped to the title.

Toure, however, claims his physical performance did not fall off. “I even asked coaches for my stats,” he said. “When I realized that they were as good or better, both in training and in matches, as those who played and were younger than me, I understood that it was not a question of physicality. I don’t know why but I have the impression that he was jealous, he took me for a rival.”

Toure also claimed that his City farewell was “stolen” by Guardiola, despite the midfielder receiving several gifts and a grand postgame reception after his final home game.

“He stole my farewell with City, a club with beautiful fans,” Toure said. “I would have liked to leave with emotion of this club the way Iniesta [left Barca] or Gianluigi Buffon [left Juventus]. But Pep prevented me.”

Several European and South American players of African descent are key contributors for City, but Toure was the only African player to appear in a game for the club this past season. He was one of only two to contribute during Guardiola’s first season at the helm. The other, Kelechi Iheanacho, was sold last summer.

“Pep likes to dominate and wants to have obedient players who kiss his hands,” Toure said. “I don’t like that kind of relationship. I respect my coach but I’m not his thing.”

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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