Should Yaya Toure leave Manchester City during the summer window, there appears to be little chance of them replacing him with Ross Barkley.
The Ivory Coast international was once more instrumental as City won a second Premier League title in three years, scoring 20 goals and assisting in nine more during 35 matches. Although he remains under contract at the Etihad Stadium until the end of the 2016-17 campaign, he and his agent, Dimitri Seluk, have this week sparked widespread speculation over his immediate future.
On Tuesday morning The Sun claimed Toure feels he is not fully appreciated by his club after they overlooked his birthday last week, and is so upset he wants to leave. The 31-year-old took to twitter and appeared to be making a joke about the reports, claiming he had now been granted best wishes from the club, but later deleted this message and has backed comments made by his agent that a summer transfer from the Manchester outfit is indeed a possibility.
It is believed that City are relaxed about the situation, particularly as Seluk has previous when it comes to causing mischief with his clients and their employers. However, the Blues are also likely to be concerned that Toure has refused to state his intentions and will not do so until after the World Cup, given that he has had opportunity both on twitter and in an interview with beIN.
If Pellegrini decided to call his bluff and sell Toure, and there would be no shortage of takers, it has been suggested that he could look to replace him with Barkley. Whilst it would be unrealistic to expect the 20-year-old to seamlessly fill the boots of the African, there is little doubt that he is a player with tremendous potential. The Everton youngster was one of the stars of the Premier League season, and has been him rewarded with a place in England World Cup squad.
The Toffees have already stated that the midfielder is not for sale, following speculation linking him with both Chelsea and Manchester United. And although they know they could name their price if City came knocking for his signature, manager Roberto Martinez has reiterated the stance that he has no pressure to sell his star asset and nor is the player looking for a transfer.
“Ross Barkley is a phenomenal talent, probably the best English talent I have ever seen, but he is not the finished article yet and you need to be very careful,” said the Spanish coach. “It’s our duty to protect him and I know Everton is the perfect place for him for the next 12 months. In football obviously you can never speak about the future, and obviously we must try to get into the top four positions to offer players like Ross the next stage of their development. But Ross is delighted at Everton and feels very much in the right place at the right time of his career.”
Seluk’s history of stirring up things where Toure is concerned dates back to February 2009, when he warned Barcelona they face losing the player if they didn’t offer him a new contract. In November of the same year, he blasted the Catalan club for not giving his client enough playing time. Before he joined City in the summer of 2010, the agent claimed the Ivorian was unlikely to do so, and that it was more likely he’d head to the capital instead. He has also publicly touted the midfielder for Real Madrid, as well as a return to the Camp Nou, over the past couple of years.