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Jul 22, 2014

Yaya Toure moves on from Cake Gate

ESPN FC's Gary Baily contends that holding on to Yaya Toure will be Manchester City's best move this summer.

It wouldn't have been a Manchester City summer if there was no drama that would leave each member of the club's press department tearing their hair out.

With a domestic double in the bag and everything looking rosy, the press officers reached for their mobile phones to turn them off, only to receive an incoming call. One of the player of the year candidates had tweeted some things and all hell was breaking loose.

It started with a cake. And that sentence sounds ridiculous in itself, but that doesn't even come close to the absurdity that followed: As Yaya Toure claimed the Blues failed to mark his birthday, the club posted a photo of the team and backroom staff enjoying a cake that had been presented to him on their flight to Abu Dhabi.

Then it was no longer about cake, but about respect -- a much less quantifiable aspect of life and far less sugary -- and it was reported the Ivorian believed his employers had been disrespectful.

It centered around the allegation that the Blues hadn't allowed the midfielder compassionate leave to see his late brother Ibrahim.

While City didn't comment on the accusation, their previous actions with other members of the playing and backroom staff would seem to disagree: Roberto Mancini was regularly allowed to visit home to see his father. Pablo Zabaleta spent as much time as he needed with his dad following a motorcycle accident that left him in a coma and Emmanuel Adebayor was re-introduced to the first team only when he felt he was able to be, following him being part of an ambushed team bus while on international duty.

- Yaya Toure staying at Manchester City

As reports emerged about whether Toure would be plying his trade in Manchester in 2014-15 or whether he would be heading away on a high-value transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, City and Toure both remained silent, leading many fans to do nothing but speculate as to what the future would hold -- ranging from the club cutting their losses on a 31-year-old player while his value is still high to absolutely nothing changing.

With the news that the Ivorian doesn't want to talk about money to improve his contract and doesn't want to leave the club, it's looking like the 'absolutely nothing changing' folk are going to be spot on.

I think perhaps the biggest question surrounding the whole issue boils down to one thing: What on earth was the point of all of that?

Toure's agent, Dimitri Seluk, was reported to have posted the comments that all wasn't well with the Ivorian and the player himself tweeted that what the advisor had said was true...But those don't seem like the actions of a man who was happy for things to stay as they were.

Perhaps Toure did initially want to leave and was hoping to cause some unrest, but couldn't get near a move he was interested in. Perhaps, he genuinely had nothing to do with the original comments and was subsequently badly advised.

Perhaps his grief for his brother manifested itself in a way that left him easily influenced. Or maybe he realised how utterly preposterous the whole sorry affair actually was. Either way, he gave an interview saying he's happy to stay.

It will be interesting how the fans take to him next season. It can't be denied the Ivorian was one of the biggest driving forces behind both of City's trophies last season and it would have been a huge blow for him to leave. Equally, though, the supporters won't be delighted with the midfielder's behaviour this summer and it wouldn't be surprising for Toure to receive a somewhat muted reception when he next trots out at the Etihad.

I doubt it will be particularly hostile; after all, Carlos Tevez went AWOL for six months before returning and playing a small part in the club's first Premier League title -- and all of the golfing sabbatical he enjoyed was neatly brushed under the carpet in the celebrations. Not necessarily forgotten, but just...ignored.

All's not lost for Toure. With the outcome being mainly speculation and a few thousand column inches, it neatly allowed the Blues to go about their squad refreshing rather quietly. The majority of fans will turn a blind eye. Another season like the last and Cake Gate will be a thing of the past.