Manchester – Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has criticised fellow footballers who have traded Europe for China, saying he would prefer to follow Manchester United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s example and stay in a competitive league.
Chinese Super League clubs have made a number of high-profile recent signings recently, with Shanghai SIPG buying Brazil midfielder Oscar from Chelsea for €60 million ($64.46 million).
Their rivals Shanghai Shenhua signed Argentine striker Carlos Tevez for a reported €84 million, but Toure said money was not everything to him.
“Do you play football because you love football or do you play because you want to make money? Me, I just want to play football because I enjoy it,” he told British media.
“Some people have the mentality that they want to do that (go to China) – to try something different. But for me, my feeling is that I want to play more football.
“Look at my friend Ibrahimovic. He’s 35 and he’s going to play for maybe three more years? He’s got the same mentality as me. He’s a big player, a champion who loves football. It’s football first. Anything after that is a bonus.”
Toure, who is out of contract in June, was frozen out of City’s squad earlier this season following a spat between the manager Pep Guardiola and the player’s agent, but returned to the team in November after making a public apology.
He has featured regularly ever since, but there is no official word yet on whether he will be offered a new contract at City. His agent revealed last week that he had turned down a £520 000 ($648 900) a week offer to play in China.
“I want to play in Europe, especially in England. I want to continue doing that for a few years yet. I always say that if I went to China I would end up feeling angry there,” the 33-year-old added.
Toure will be hoping to inspire City when they travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace in an FA Cup fourth-round fixture on Saturday.