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Champions League snub raises tension between Guardiola, Toure at Man City

The ESPN FC crew look ahead to Wednesday's fixtures in the Champions League.
The ESPN FC crew look ahead to Wednesday's fixtures in the Champions League.

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure and Pep Guardiola have endured a difficult relationship at Manchester City and the latest episode in their soap opera has led to more questions ...

What's happened?

City flew out to Rotterdam without Toure for their Champions League opener with Feyenoord despite the Ivorian not having an injury. Guardiola told a news conference it was a "sporting decision" and that Toure "knows the reason why".

Toure hasn't played a minute for the first team this season and was left out of the squad altogether for the 5-0 win over Liverpool last Saturday. Guardiola appeared to suggest the 34-year-old was not giving enough in training.

"I demand as much as possible," he said. "I want more from Yaya, more from everyone."

What is their history?

Toure and Guardiola worked together briefly at Barcelona, but only for the 2009-10 season. The Catalan sold him to City after preferring Sergio Busquets for much of the campaign.

There were concerns about whether Toure would be wanted when Guardiola was announced as the new City boss and the player's agent Dimitry Seluk didn't help with critical comments about the incoming new coach

He didn't play in the Premier League for the first three months of last season and was left out of the Champions League squad during the group stage. But when Toure apologised, he returned to the side -- scoring twice on his first game back against Crystal Palace -- and featured in 30 of their final 37 matches from then on.

Pep Guardiola & Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure and Pep Guardiola haven't had the smoothest of relationships.

How has their relationship been recently?

The pair have been nothing but complimentary about each other since Toure's return. Guardiola praised Toure's role in his side that gave them the balance, experience and control he was searching for. He was one of six first team players out of contract at the end of last season but such was his revival, he was the only one to be rewarded with a new deal.

Ahead of the new campaign, Toure said he was fortunate to work under Guardiola and believed he can still make a contribution.

"The mentality of the manager is playing good and winning -- not just winning," Toure told reporters.

"I think I'm lucky because I used to play under Pep at Barcelona and I know what he wants."

What does the immediate future hold?

Sources have told ESPN FC the player remains relaxed about the latest development and he was not expecting to feature in every game. City have a League Cup game against West Brom next week which could present an opportunity for some players to be rested and a chance for Guardiola to rotate the side.

And the former Barca and Bayern Munich coach says he hopes to have Toure in his team in the near future. Asked whether he would play soon, Guardiola said: "Hopefully. It depends on the player."

What about Toure's long term prospects?

He is out of contract at the end of the summer and with each passing season, it's going to get harder for him to earn a new deal. Fernandinho has started all of City's first four games of the season in the deep-lying midfield role. And Toure's hopes of game time are going to get even slimmer when Ilkay Gundogan is back up and running as he continues his recovery from the cruciate knee ligament injury which has ruled him out since last December.

Academy product Phil Foden is also making huge strides training with the first team and Guardiola is hoping he will be able to give the Stockport-born midfielder time on the pitch soon.

Guardiola has filled his team with young, energetic signings and time will eventually catch up on a player seen by City fans as one of the greatest in the club's history.

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.

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