Skip to main content

Yaya Toure: Can footballers have their cake and eat it?

May 21, 2014 -- Updated 1902 GMT (0302 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Yaya Toure's brand "left damaged" by outburst says PR expert
  • Agent says Manchester City midfielder is upset by lack of birthday celebrations
  • His future at Premier League's top club is in jeopardy according to Phil Hall
  • Public take dim view of such behavior from highly-paid sport stars

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Is this Manchester City's "David Beckham moment?"

When Yaya Toure's agent announced his client was unhappy because the English Premier League champion's bosses failed to wish him happy birthday, social media went into meltdown.

The 31-year-old, who earns a reported $370,000 a week, has been ridiculed after his agent revealed Toure was left upset by the lack of congratulations afforded to him.

According to the player's agent, Toure was barely acknowledged by the club's owners when the squad arrived in the United Arab Emirates last week to celebrate their Premier League title triumph.

"None of them shook his hand on his birthday. It's really sick," his agent Dmitri Seluk told the BBC.

But according to one PR expert, it's a case of a Premier League player wanting to have his cake and eat it; a case of professional footballers losing all touch with reality.

"I think it's a classic way of player trying to take control of club," Phil Hall, whose clients have included City, told CNN.

"He wants to be king of dressing room and fawned over.

"This is where it often goes wrong. It's the same as what happened with Beckham at Manchester United.

"In a few months, he was gone. The same happened with Eric Cantona.

"Jose Mourinho has dealt similarly with other players. When a player sees himself as bigger than the club, then it's time to part company."

It's unlikely Toure's behavior would have been tolerated at Manchester United under former manager Alex Ferguson.

The Scot ruled Old Trafford with an iron fist and anyone who dared to challenge his authority was promptly shown the door.

In his autobiography, Ferguson describes how Beckham, a global brand, had to leave after a heated exchange following a defeat by Arsenal in 2003.

Beckham suffered a cut to his head after Ferguson kicked a boot at him following a dressing-room argument -- a moment which signaled the end of their relationship.

"The minute a Manchester United player thought he was bigger than the manager he had to go," Ferguson wrote in his book.

"David thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson. It doesn't matter whether it's Alex Ferguson or Pete the Plumber. The authority is what counts."

While Beckham's brand was scarcely tarnished, Toure -- who signed a new four-year contract with City just 11 months ago -- could find himself in a far more problematic situation.

His agent said the midfielder could leave City if he is not showed enough "respect" -- and the Ivory Coast star tweeted that he would make an announcement after the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.

"Man City is not respecting the player -- how can he be motivated to play for that team?" Seluk told Sky Sports News.

"If they don't want Toure then he can leave at any moment. Many clubs would be interested in him."

According to Hall, the player's latest outburst is a sign that "the tail is trying to wag the dog."

"It's going to be very difficult for Yaya at Manchester City now," added Hall.

"When you do something like this then people start using it against you in different circumstances.

"Next time, when he fails to play because he's got a minor injury, people will start to doubt his commitment again and say, 'Oh, that's Yaya.'

"If he did have a problem then he should have dealt with it quietly. He now looks a bit sad."

Toure is not the first player to find himself embarrassed by his alleged excessive demands.

Hall cites an example of one player who, having lost money on his property empire, demanded his club pay up the shortfall.

Another, who had accrued large gambling debts, urged his club to pay off his creditors because it was having a negative impact on his performances.

It's that type of high maintenance which has helped give footballers a bad name, according to Hall.

"Players need to understand that they are major brands," he added.

"I can't believe they don't employ specialist employers and just rely on their agent or friend. They need to understand they're working in the corporate world and not in Sunday League.

"Effectively, Toure has devalued himself already. Potential suitors will think they can acquire him on the cheap and it may do damage to his signing-on fee."

No cake -- but plenty of food for thought.

Read: Beckham -- the man who broke football's gay taboo?

Read: Beckham -- rise of the metrosexual

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
ADVERTISEMENT