In a long interview with France Football, Yaya Touré has implied that his former boss, Pep Guardiola, has a bias against African players. Guardiola was his coach when the two were at Barcelona and Manchester City. At the Camp Nou, Touré was eventually sold as Sergio Busquets became his preferred choice. He is set to leave City this summer.
Here’s Touré’s controversial comments:
”He was cruel to me. I am not the first to talk about these differences in treatment. At Barça, some have also asked the question. Maybe we Africans are not always treated by some in the same way as others. When we realize that he often has problems with Africans wherever he goes, I ask myself questions.”
The Ivorian international reunited withr Guardiola at Manchester City after his sale from Barcelona. Guardiola also sold Samuel Eto’o, a Cameroonian striker, after his first season with Barcelona. Eto’o was known to be a bit of a troublemaker, but equally, some considered his sale a blunder. Eto’o would win the UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan after Guardiola discarded him. The striker has publicly criticized Guardiola as well.
However, by all accounts, Guardiola got along famously with Malian midfielder Seydou Keita. At Bayern Munich, he trained Medhi Benatia, a Moroccan, without incident. And at Manchester City, he managed Kelechi Iheanacho of Nigeria, but only for a small time. Wilfried Bony, a fellow Ivorian, was sold the summer Guardiola arrived.
Of course, there have been other black, but not African by nationality, players under Guardiola. Éric Abidal, a black French player who was a starter at Barça under Guardiola, is a notable example.
Touré went on to say that Guardiola “pretends not to have any problem” with black players, “because he is too intelligent to be trapped.” Guardiola, he says, would never admit it. “But,” Touré added, “the day he fields a team in which we find five native-born Africans, I promise I will send him a cake!”