Gary Neville: Yaya Toure's Manchester City future questioned

Graphic by Scott Penhaligon
Image: Graphic by Scott Penhaligon

Gary Neville says Manchester City have a decision to make as to whether Yaya Toure fits in at the club, and insists they need to make big changes to the squad in the summer.

City exited the Champions League at the last 16 stage against Barcelona for a second straight season, and are sitting six points behind leaders Chelsea in the Premier League.

Toure, who was replaced by Wilfried Bony after 72 minutes in the Nou Camp, has been at the Etihad Stadium since 2010, but Neville believes the 31-year-old’s role is now hindering City.

He told the Champions League Podcast: “You can't play with Yaya Toure in midfield as a two anymore, there's too much evidence in big matches now over a lengthy period of time to suggest that he's not capable of doing that.

Yaya Toure in action during the Champions League match between Bayern Munich and Manchester City
Image: Toure in action against Bayern Munich earlier this season

“I still think that going forward in a three or in front as a No 10 he can be a big player for Man City, but not as one of those two defensive midifielder players against opposition like Liverpool or Barcelona when you don't have possession.

“There’s one of two decisions City can make. You either alter one of the 29 to 30-year-old's, the ones who have been there for four years.

“Or you alter the other ones who maybe aren't good enough to push them out the team.

Manuel Pellegrini, coach of Manchester City looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Barcelona and Man City
Image: Neville says Manuel Pellegrini is not fully culpable for City's failure to improve

“Do they move on the likes of Toure? Or do they think no, Toure is a fantastic player but we won’t play him three games a week.

“We can bring somebody else who can take his role on a Wednesday night so Toure has more energy for nights like this.”

Pellegrini has come under increased pressure this season for failing to noticeably move City forward after their Premier League-winning campaign last term.

The Chilean’s signings during his 20-month tenure have been criticised, but Neville has defended the City boss and suggested the blame should lie with the likes of director of football Txiki Begiristain.

“The way Man City have operated you think [Pellegrini] will come under enormous pressure.

“He's not in control of signings. The signings over the last two-and-a-half years have not been good enough.

“I think the finger will be pointed upwards as well as downwards at Pellegrini. It’s easy to blame the head coach and he'll be the one who takes the flak for it.

“He'll be the one who is thrown out in front of the media, but when you spend upwards of £150million in a couple years then there has to be someone who is responsible for those signings.

“I still say Man City were at their best four years ago at the end of the season they won the championship.

“It was a fantastic team and I thought with the right signings over the next couple of years they should have been progressing further in Champions League matches than they have been.

“The way City have operated they always change their manager when they haven’t had success. But I don’t think it’s just about Pellegrini, I think there’s definitely other factors.”

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