Yaya Toure claimed he always knew he would be back in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City plans after scoring twice on his return to the first team on Saturday.
Toure celebrated his recall to Guardiola’s starting line-up with two goals in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, after spending three months in the wilderness.
In September, the Ivory Coast midfielder was told by Guardiola that he would not be picked for the first team unless he apologised for comments made by his agent Dimitri Seluk.
Seluk claimed Toure had been “humiliated” by Guardiola after the former Barcelona manager left the midfielder out of City’s Champions League squad.
Toure apologised in November for “the misunderstandings of the past” and his committed attitude in training was enough for Guardiola to recall him.
The 33-year-old, whose name was chanted by Manchester City fans throughout the match, made the most of his return and was applauded back into the dressing room by his team-mates after scoring the winner in the 83rd minute.
“They have always been brilliant with me, always supportive,” said Toure. “I always want to be there to help them. I am professional, I always want to improve my game.
“I was prepared mentally and I knew that one day my manager would need me. You must always stay professional.”
Guardiola, who by recalling Toure was able to rest midfielder Ilkay Gundogan ahead of Wednesday’s key Champions League match against Borussia Moenchengladbach, was left thrilled with the contribution of the player he once coached at Barcelona.
“We have a new player now,” he beamed after watching Toure’s team-mates give him a hero’s reception. “It’s a gift to have another player to compete (for a place).
“He’s part of the history of this club. He’s a huge personality and his team-mates appreciate him a lot.”
While City went to the top of the table alongside leaders Liverpool on 27 points, the joy was tempered by another injury to captain Vincent Kompany, who made his first Premier League start for seven months.
He lasted just 37 minutes before having to be taken off following a collision with his own goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.