Yaya Toure has insisted he will capitalise on his return to the Manchester City team by vowing to give 100% every game.
The midfielder, synonymous with City’s recent successes, looked to be heading for the Etihad Stadium exit after being frozen out by manager Pep Guardiola.
Relations looked unlikely to thaw after the Spaniard said Toure would remain jettisoned until outspoken agent Dimitri Seluk apologised for controversial comments about him – a stand-off that lasted until November.
The 33-year-old issued an apology that brought with it a surprising first-team return, with the midfielder featuring in every league match since netting a match-winning brace on his comeback at Crystal Palace.
“To be honest, I belong on the field you know,” Toure said.
“Even if I’m not playing I want to be at the stadium to watch. Out of the stadium is going to be difficult.
“Even when I finish, when I’m going home, I am thinking about my football and what I did and how I played and what I could change. I always want to progress.
“Of course I want to be involved, but it depends on the manager. I will be fully prepared for any situation.
“But I will give 100 per cent for this club, for these fans. These fans are the only ones who sing my name.
“I have played a lot of football when you look at all my stats, but at City, the fans at this club are the ones who always sing my name, give this happiness to the family. If I can do more, I will do it.”
Back to his best
The Ivorian spoke with a beaming smile after helping City secure a crucial 2-1 win against Arsenal, joking that he feels 20 again having returned to the side and full fitness.
Most importantly, Toure and Guardiola appear to have put any differences behind them, underlined by a light-hearted exchange after the player realised his manager was listening into one of his responses to journalists.
The midfielder was being asked about extending his deal beyond the end of the season – a situation few could have imagined just months ago.
“Before when I talked, in New Jersey, when I signed for City, I came to this club to make history,” Toure said.
“I want this club to change, I want this club to be bigger than United. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but that’s my dream.
“I have been lucky to play at big clubs, Barcelona, Olympiacos, those teams were always used to being champions. But City, it was something different, something changing and I am happy now.
“Every single year we are always involved in the title race. Even though we lost, and something changed or something was bad, the following year the owner put more money into the club and got better players to make it better.
“That’s what I like, the challenge, I love a challenge.”
Yaya Toure is at Man City for a good time AND a long time ?? pic.twitter.com/5zauzfzD5J
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) December 21, 2016
Toure wants to do “something very important” before his time at City comes to an end, whether that is next year or another time.
A third Premier League title is not beyond the realms of possibility, despite the seven-point gap to Christmas leaders Chelsea, while City have a kind-looking Champions League last-16 tie against Monaco.
Toure may well be involved in the matches against his former club having been omitted from City’s European squad for the group stages – a tough period but not the first he has had to deal with.
“I’m okay, I was always being involved,” he said. “But you never know me in Belgium, it was tougher.
“In France it was tough. Greece it was okay, but Barcelona it was tough because of the variety, big players like Edmilson, Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta, Deco, it was tougher.
“But I always fight, I love the challenge and it is good for the team as well, to make the team one step better.”