Yaya Toure has created confusion over whether he is happy at Manchester City by dismissing, but then endorsing, some extraordinary claims from his agent.
The influential midfielder first brushed off suggestions from his representative that he could quit City because he felt disrespected, and then strongly reinforced his commitment to the club.
About an hour later, Toure issued statements in support of Dimitry Seluk, whose most remarkable complaint was that City failed to sufficiently acknowledge the player’s birthday. Toure tweeted: “Everything dimitry said is true. He speaks for me. I will give an interview after world cup to explain.”
Seluk said Toure was “very upset”, and there was a “big possibility” he could leave this summer because he felt under-appreciated.
He said the player found it hurtful that no one from the club wished him a happy birthday when he turned 31 during last week’s post-season trip to Abu Dhabi.
This grievance was soon exposed as untrue as media picked up on a video published by the club last week in which Toure was presented a birthday cake. City also tweeted a birthday message at the time.
That led Seluk to attempt to clarify his remarks by insisting those measures did not go far enough.
Seluk told BBC Sport: “None of them shook his hand on his birthday. He got a cake but when it was Roberto Carlos’s birthday, the president of Anzhi [Russian club, Makhachkala] gave him a Bugatti.
“I don’t expect City to present Yaya with a Bugatti, we only asked that they shook his hand and said, ‘we congratulate you’. It is the minimum they must do when it is his birthday and the squad is all together.
“It is an important human relationship to shake hands and say ‘happy birthday’ but nobody did it to Yaya. It shows they don’t care about him.”
City did not respond. In fact, Seluk has a history of threatening his client’s exit, having done so in each of the last two years at City and during his time at Barcelona.
Last year he demanded a new contract be agreed by a certain deadline only for that to pass and Toure, with little apparent complaint, to sign a new four-year deal a month later.
Seluk insisted in The Sun: “He’s very upset and he started thinking of leaving the club. And he will leave if things carry on like this.
“It’s not a question of money or contract, believe me. He has everything he needs. For Yaya what is the most important thing is human relationships.”
Both the agent and player were coming in for ridicule on social media as the story gathered momentum when Toure weighed in.
Initially it seemed he had put an end to the matter as he tweeted: “Thanks for all the birthday messages today. Card from City just arrived ... Must have got lost in the post. Haha.
“Jokes aside. Please do not take words that do not come out of MY mouth seriously. Judge my commitment to @MCFC by my performances.”
Yet soon after, Toure changed his position. “My agent was trying to make a point here on my behalf, joke aside. It seems important for me to make a statement ... i am going to do so,” he tweeted, before going on to back Seluk.