Yaya Toure has refused to rule out a move to Manchester United and insists he wants to ‘teach’ Paul Pogba.
The Ivorian is at a crossroads.
He is getting used to life away from Manchester City for the first time in eight years.
It will be strange to face the club he thought he would end his playing days at, he explains. But that is precisely what he plans to do - insisting he will remain in the Premier League, and in the higher reaches of England’s top flight too.
Such is his determination to continue at the pinnacle of the sport that even United would not be out of the question.
After all, Jose Mourinho is looking to replace Michael Carrick this summer.
“Yeah he just left,” Toure tells MEN Sport.
“Let’s see, let’s see.”
“I don’t rule big teams out. The big teams are very important for me. What they want to achieve, the way they want to go, for me is very important.
“I want to go somewhere I can win and achieve.
“It’s going to be hard one day to play against City, but I have to do that. It is part of my job.
“I’ve been playing football for such a long time, I’m no good in the office or something else. I am good in football.
“To see myself at a different club is going to be difficult. I have been such a big part of City for such a long time now. I just want to say that definitely I will continue to play at a high level - Champions League or Europa League.
“I want to play two more years. They have to be in the higher level and then I can do something else.”
If Toure is looking to the future, so is Pep Guardiola, who has made replacing the 35-year-old his priority this summer.
Napoli midfielder Jorginho is among the Catalan’s top candidates to fill that berth.
But asked if he could hand-pick his own replacement, Toure returns the theme to United.
“I love Paul Pogba,” he says.
“I love Kevin (de Bruyne) as well and I love (David) Silva. Silva was my player.
“It is difficult because you have to be good on all things. Silva is short and strong.
“Pogba - it’s difficult because of the way the media has treated him. We don’t have the same characteristics because for me I was involved in all the ball, I ran everywhere.
“I liked that. I was prepared for that. I was working for that for a long time.
“When I was in the academy in Africa I had to run everywhere, get box to box in 50 seconds. It’s something I’ve been loving to do.
“Pogba is the same size, power - but different in the way he wants to go. Technically as well, the ability to score goals as well. It is a player I want to play with, to be honest, just to teach him some things.”
This sounds increasingly like he sees United as his next move.
“No, no, no, no. The fans are going to kill me!” he laughs.
It’s easy to see how Pogba could benefit from Toure’s guiding hand.
While the French international continues to be measured by the then-world record £89m transfer fee it took for United to lure him back from Juventus two years ago, Toure came under scrutiny at City for his reported salary of around £185,000-a-week basic when he arrived from Barca in 2010.
It is a measure of his success at the Etihad - winning three Premier League titles, the FA Cup and three League Cups - that talk of his astronomical wages soon dissipated.
Pogba - who faces an uncertain future at Old Trafford after being dropped by Mourinho this season - could do worse than listen to ‘Uncle Yaya’ - as he was known among his City teammates.
“Pogba is a great player,” he says.
“He’s a fantastic player. He’s a little bit young at the moment.
“Criticism is a part of life. If they criticise you it’s because they want you to be good or be better.
“I’ve been criticised and I love to be criticised. I like it. I don’t mind if people talk about me - it’s good. It means I have to achieve, I have to be better.
“Even if you continue to be at the peak of your game, sometimes they are going to find something to tell you. It’s part of life. We have to deal with that.”
But how will City deal with replacing the player who was so pivotal to building the club in its modern guise.
“It is hard,” he said. “I gave all my energy and all my mind for seven, eight years. For four or five years I was playing week in, week out.
“Sometimes people didn’t know I was injured, but I played because this club always had to be the best club in the world. We always have to be there.
“The best player has to be on the field. Try to defend his shirt.
“Maybe the new players, the new kids coming through, they can make it. But the mentality I always had - it was always too high. The way I demanded of myself and demanded of those close to me to be at the top of their game.
“Sometimes it is difficult to get that, but let’s see if City can get a good one (replacement). I wish them good luck in the future, maybe one day I hope I will be back in a different situation.
“I feel like I’m retiring because in my mind I was thinking I would stop football after City.
“I was wanting to continue with City for two more years, but that is life. We have to move on, we have to understand decisions sometimes.”
Toure will next be in action at Old Trafford for Socceraid along with celebrities like Usain Bolt and Robbie Williams.
Ahead of the event on June 10 he took part in Unicef’s Playground Challenge at St Matthew’s CE Primary School in Stretford.
On Friday June 8, pupils across the UK will make a donation to wear their favourite football or sports kit for the day as they kick, bounce or carry a ball around a Playground Challenge obstacle course they’ve designed themselves.
The UK Government will match every £1 schools raise, to aid Unicef’s work to protect children in danger around the world.
“This is the kind of thing I love,” adds Toure. “Sharing time with kids. People don’t see us like this usually.
“I’ve been doing charity in my country. I’m used to being in touch with my own people from my own town, but I want to be more world wide.
“Unicef to me is something amazing, I can touch and help people even though I’ve never met them in my life.
“God gave me a lot of chance to do what I have achieved and I think those kids are there - maybe one of them can make it.
“If you continue to help them, if they have the opportunity to have the kindness of people like me, like Bolt and Robbie Williams, it’s something very important. And for me as a parent it is something I am very happy to be a part of.”
Finally, does he ever see himself back at City in some capacity?
“I will take the place of Pep,” he says, laughing - but he might just be serious.