What's happened to Yaya Toure? How former Manchester City star is refusing to retire

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The midfield maestro has fallen off the map in recent months but he is determined to bow out on his own terms

From being voted Manchester City's player of the year in 2014 to a seemingly failed trial with a Chinese second-division side just last month, the career of Yaya Toure is winding to an interesting and potentially disappointing close.

Having scaled the heights of Europe with Barcelona, where he won the Champions League in 2009, and sealed iconic status at the Etihad, the now 36-year-old is desperately clinging to what's left of his playing days.

After a failed return to Greece with Olympiacos at the start of last season, Toure has made just five competitive appearances over the past year, playing a total of 222 minutes. 

With that severe lack of game time and an agent jumping the gun, the former Ivory Coast midfielder was forced to clarify whether he had indeed hung up his boots. 

“Retired? Never! I will still keep playing," Toure told Sky Sports in May. 

“There have been so many rumours about my future in football but it’s time to make things clear. Football is something I cannot describe, I’ve been playing since I was young, and I will continue playing football.

“When it’s time for me to retire I will do it officially myself. Nobody else will speak on my behalf.”

While determined to play on, Toure's most recent bid to find a new side fell short after he trialled unsuccessfully with Chinese club Qingdao Huanghai. 

Toure was spotted landing in China last month with the club confirming he was indeed there for a trial but that they wouldn't sign him until he proved himself suitable for a side currently sitting top of the Chinese second-division. 

Evidently, the 2015 African Cup of Nations winner didn't do enough to convince the club he could contribute, with no deal being done in the weeks since. 

Yaya Toure

Having claimed his first piece of silverware in Greece with Olympiacos, Toure was hoping for a fairytale finish to his career by returning to the club that helped launch him. 

But after re-signing with them in September 2018, he would leave the Greek giants just three months later with his career clearly stalling. 

"I came back for you. I had a vision and wanted to win trophies for you," Toure wrote on Facebook after his departure. 

"Sadly, it has not worked out but I move on with love in my heart for you all. You have always encouraged me and stood by me.

"But now it is time for a new challenge. My love for football still burns strong."

Toure's footballing ambitions are perhaps burning a little too strong, however, with his agent declaring late last year that a return to England's top-flight was his priority. 

Yaya Toure

The former Manchester City star spent eight seasons in the Premier League, winning the title three times, before being ushered out the door by Pep Guardiola.

Toure seemingly isn't done with the country just yet. 

"There are many proposals from Arab teams, but also from Asia. Huge offers. But most likely for Yaya is to return to the Premier League," Toure's agent Dimitri Seluk told  Gazzetta last year.

"His dream was to fight there and make it happen. He wants to come back there and I think there are conditions for it to happen again."

No moves have eventuated, however, as Toure's dreams of finishing his playing career with a bang now hang in the balance. 

After failing to secure a move to China, the 36-year-old's most recent football outing came in an exhibition match for PlayStation where he acted as a player-manager. 

Though not exactly a test of his managerial credentials, Toure has made no secret of his desire to become a coach once his playing days are officially done.

"I’m starting to prepare myself for coaching badges but full-time coaching is not what I’m thinking now," Toure wrote on Twitter.

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"I am now ready and focused to take new challenges in playing football. And don’t worry once the time has come, I will announce my retirement personally and officially by myself!"

Not a man to be retired, Toure's final chapter as a footballer is set for an intriguing end. 

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