x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

City-bound Toure sad to leave Barca

Manchester City's latest signing has spoken of his sadness to leave Barcelona, but is looking forward to the chance to play regularly.

Yaya Toure, Manchester City's latest signing, has spoken of his sadness to leave Barcelona, but is looking forward to the chance to play regularly. City paid Barcelona around £27.5 million (Dh151m) for the defensive midfielder, who will reportedly become the highest-paid player in the Premier League. Nevertheless, Toure says the decision to leave Barcelona was a difficult one.

"The decision to leave was complicated because Barca is the team of my whole life," he told the radio station RAC-1. "It was a sad decision because everybody wants to come to Barca and I have had to leave, but not playing has been difficult and it wouldn't have been normal to just sit on the bench and pick up the money." Toure, who will link up with his brother Kolo at City, says Dimitri Seluk, his agent, was instrumental in the move.

"He told me I had to leave," he said. "I wanted to bring more joy to the fans, but life is like that. Barca is a great club with the best players in the world and I have played less in this third season, which for me has been difficult." Everton have agreed a deal that gives them first option on Araz Abdullayev, the Azerbaijan player. The 18-year-old midfielder currently plays for Neftchi Baku in his domestic league but recently underwent a medical at the Liverpool club. The deal means Everton will be able to sign Abdullayev any time during the next two years, subject to a work permit being granted.

Abdullayev, who is Azerbaijan's youngest international, having made his debut at the age of 16, is best known for his solo strike against Scotland's under-21s in March. Newcastle, who return to the Premier League for the coming season following their promotion from the Championship, opened their recruitment drive with the signing of utility man James Perch from Nottingham Forest. Perch, 24, joins the club for an undisclosed fee. He can play anywhere across the back four and in midfield and his versatility is just one of the qualities which brought him to the attention of the manager Chris Hughton.

"James is a player I've admired for some time and it's great we've been able to secure his services," Hughton said on the club's website. * Agencies