Yaya Toure has been left out of Manchester City’s squad for the first leg of their Champions League play-off at Steaua Bucharest.
The Ivory Coast midfielder did not even make the bench for the first match of new manager Pep Guardiola’s reign, against Sunderland on Saturday.
Now the 33-year-old has not been included in City’s travelling party for Tuesday’s clash in the Romanian capital, a decision by Guardiola which could increase speculation over the one-time team linchpin’s future.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference at the Arena Nationala, Guardiola said: “He is a player of us and he is training amazing, but I was not sure if he was going to play, and so I prefer it if he stays there training good in Manchester.
“We travelled with two young guys and for the selection I prefer it to be the young guys than Yaya Toure.
“I prefer it if he stays there training and focuses on the next game. I have a lot of respect of him, for his career and quality, but for the first days – against Sunderland – we were looking for a more intensive game. That is why he didn’t play, the only reason why.”
Guardiola also made headlines prior to Saturday’s 2-1 defeat of Sunderland by leaving long-time City number one Joe Hart on the bench.
The Spaniard said that he needed a goalkeeper to play more with his feet and Willy Caballero, having returned for pre-season training ahead of Hart, was more attuned to the requirement.
The ruthless decision has also sparked conjecture over the England keeper’s status but Guardiola would not discuss reports the club have lined up a move for Barcelona’s number two Claudio Bravo.
The former Barca boss said: “I think it is not the moment to talk about players who are not in Manchester City. They are players for another club. I am not going to talk, one day before one of the most important games of the season, about transfers.”
A question on whether City might be open to offers for Hart was cut off by UEFA’s representative but Guardiola said he has been pleased with the player’s response to the situation.