Pep Guardiola has confirmed long-serving midfielder Yaya Toure will leave Manchester City next month after eight successful seasons with the Premier League champions.
The Ivory Coast international turns 35 on the last day of the current campaign and has been a key part of City’s rise to prominence under their wealthy Abu Dhabi owners.
Toure is out of contract at the end of the season and, as had been widely expected, he will not be offered a new deal by Guardiola.
The City manager was adamant, however, that Toure will receive a memorable send-off when the club end their home campaign against Brighton next week, an indication of his contribution to the cause over nearly a decade.
Even though he has found his opportunities scaled down this season, having been limited to nine appearances off the bench in the Blues’ title-winning campaign, Toure will still qualify for his third Premier League winner’s medal.
“He will not stay after this season,” Guardiola said on Friday. “The Brighton game we will give him what he deserves. One of the most beautiful farewells a player can receive.
“We will be focused on winning the game against Brighton for Yaya, and we are going to try to do it for him.”
Toure’s spell with City, since signing from Barcelona for £24 million ($32 million, 27 million euros) in July 2010, has seen him win with three League Cups and an FA Cup, in addition to his trio of Premier League crowns.
But Guardiola said his influence extended far beyond simple on-field success.
“We have amazing facilities but the club became what they did because of the players,” he explained.
“Yaya Toure came here when this idea for the club started, and what we are in this moment is thanks to what this guy has done. We cannot forget the period from Roberto Mancini, and especially Manuel Pellegrini.
“Yaya was the key, key, key, key, key, key player. That’s why we are delighted to prepare for Sunday’s game, for our celebration, and after for Yaya.”
Guardiola will finally get his hands on the Premier League trophy following the league game with struggling Huddersfield on Sunday.
England is the third different country in which he has led a club to the league title following successes in Spain and Germany with Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively.
But the goal of winning the Champions League proved beyond City this season, although Guardiola insisted he felt no frustration this week when their quarter-final conquerors, Liverpool, reached the final.
“Believe me, I’d like to be in the final of the Champions League, a lot,” said Guardiola.
“But Liverpool deserve to be there and Real Madrid (their opponents in the final).
“It’s not about the different competitions, the Premier League is about consistency.
“In cup games, anything can happen. We lost against Wigan in the FA Cup.”
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