Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure is the latest high-profile Premier League player to be linked to a huge contract offer from the Chinese Super League. His agent, Dimitry Seluk, told Sky Sports that Toure rejected the chance to earn £520,000-per-week at Jiangsu Suning last January.
“Yaya plays on another level. He wants to play at the highest level. He’s happy at Manchester City. Yaya likes football more than money.”
Toure’s astonishing offer preceded those received by Chelsea trio Oscar, John Obi Mikel and Diego Costa this January. Both Oscar and Mikel chose to make their big-money moves, while Costa was dropped by Chelsea (despite being the Premier League’s top scorer) after becoming unsettled by the interest.
The 33-year-old Ivorian midfielder may not be at the peak of his powers like Costa, but he remains a global footballing superstar. He was also a target for the Chinese Super League in the summer, when he appeared to have no future at City under Pep Guardiola.
The manager, who oversaw Toure’s departure from Barcelona in 2010, left Toure out of his Champions League squad at the end of August. That decision prompted outrage from Toure’s agent in particular. Seluk’s comments led to the experienced midfielder being frozen out until recently.
However, after apologising to Guardiola, Toure made a surprise return to the side against Crystal Palace in November. He repaid Guardiola’s faith by scoring twice in a man-of-the-match performance and has appeared in every Premier League match since.
With just six months remaining on his current deal, Toure still harbours hopes of securing at least another season at the Etihad Stadium. He is entitled to speak to other clubs about his future, but declared earlier in the month that his focus remains with City. Regardless, he seems unwilling to move to China despite entering the twilight of his career.
Toure’s firm rejection of Chinese riches offers hope to those worried about the threat that the Far East poses to the European game. It confirms the view that top players would rather play at the top level of club football than earn ludicrous sums of money.
What’s more, the Chinese Football Association have imposed a rule which limits clubs to playing three foreign players at any one time. Tianjin Quanjian have already suggested that the measure has curbed their interest in Chelsea striker Costa.