MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Yaya Toure didn’t travel with Manchester City for its Champions League playoff match against Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday, plunging his future at the English club into further doubt.
City manager Pep Guardiola last week included Toure in his provisional squad list for the two-legged playoff, but the Ivory Coast midfielder was not among the players who flew to Romania.
“He is a player of us and is training amazing,” Guardiola said Monday, “but I was not sure if he was going to play and so I prefer it if he stays there training good in Manchester.”
The 33-year-old Toure wasn’t in City’s squad for the team’s opening game of the Premier League season, a 2-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday.
“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,” Guardiola said. “That is why he didn’t play, the only reason why.”
Guardiola was in charge of Barcelona when he sold Toure to City in 2010. Toure has been a key player in City’s emergence as a domestic force in the last six years, but his work rate has been criticized over the last two seasons and he has entered the final year of his contract.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart is another high-profile City player whose future is uncertain under Guardiola. The England international was also dropped against Sunderland, with Willy Caballero starting, but was part of the travelling party to Romania.
Those who play in any of the Champions League qualifying rounds are eligible to play for another club in the group stage.
The second leg between City and Steaua will be played on Aug. 24.