Yaya Toure says Manchester City is the only club where he has felt the love of the fans.
The Ivory Coast international’s £230,000-a-week contract runs out in the summer and he has not given up on a new deal as he looks to win another title and help City finally become bigger than bitter rivals Manchester United.
The 33-year-old was back to his best as he played a vital role in City’s second-half performance that rocked Arsenal on Sunday and said: “I will give 100 per cent for this club, for these fans.
“These fans are the only ones who sing my name.
“I have played a lot of football when you look at all my stats, but at City, the fans at this club are the ones who always sing my name, give this happiness to the family. If I can do more, I will do it.
“When I signed for City, I came to this club to make history. I want this club to change, I want this club to be bigger than Manchester United.
“I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but that’s my dream. I have been lucky to play at big clubs, Barcelona, Olympiakos – those teams were always used to being champions.
“But City, it was something different, something changing and I am happy now. Every single year we are always involved in the title race.
“Even though we lost, and something changed or something was bad, the following year the owner put more money into the club and got better players to make it better.
“That’s what I like, the challenge. I want to make something very important. I have won two Premier League titles and I want more than that, another new story.
“What we are seeing is the Premier League is so tough. This year it’s going to be tougher than any other years.”
Amusingly, as Toure was asked about his future, boss Guardiola walked past and smiled as he listened to our interview.
It highlights a thawing in what was a difficult relationship between manager and superstar player who was left out in the cold as Guardiola demanded an apology from Toure’s outspoken agent Dimitri Seluk.
Once that apology came, the midfielder was back in the squad, and he is expected to be on their Champions League list for the knock-out phase which begins in February.
Now the question can be posed as to whether he has a future at the club.
That seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago, as Toure prepared to see out his final year of the contract without kicking a ball. But he insists he never gave up fighting to win his place back.
Toure said: “When we are training Pep asks me, ‘How are you working? If you work well you are going to play. If you don’t, you are out.’
“I’m OK, I was always involved. But you never knew me in Belgium, it was tougher. In France, it was tough. Greece it was OK. But Barcelona it was tough because of the variety, with big players like Edmilson, Xavi, Iniesta, Deco.
“I always fight, I love the challenge and it is good for the team as well, to make the team one step better.
“As the years go by, the players go, and coming to a team with such big financial power, you always want to do more, do different things. Because of that every year we have to win the league, every year we’re trying to do that, and doing that here I don’t think he’s going to change many things.
“I was with Pep two years at Barcelona and now he’s here, we’ll see how he thinks, how he works, I have more years to get to know him. But after six years I know how this league works.
“A senior player like Zabaleta or me, we know what we have to do to win a game. We have to help the young players, we know City are a team that has to win. We have pressure from the fans, and the press, home and away.”