Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini does not believe Yaya Toure and James Milner were bidding the club’s fans farewell against Southampton on Sunday.
Both midfielders started the 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium on the final day of the Premier League season and were substituted in the second half, with their departures greeted with rapturous applause from the crowd.
Toure has been linked with a move away from the Premier League for several months and former City coach Roberto Mancini is reportedly interested in bringing him to Inter, while Milner’s contract expires at the end of June.
Despite such uncertainty surrounding their futures, Pellegrini thinks the only City player bidding farewell to the fans on Sunday was Frank Lampard, whose loan from New York City FC has ended.
Pellegrini said: “I think the only player who was saying goodbye was Lampard. Yaya was returning in the last game after an injury of 15 days, he was very tired and couldn’t finish the last game too – I didn’t want to give him a muscle injury.
“Milner had a kick on his knee which is why he couldn’t finish the game. We’ll see – not only for those two – in the future who will stay here or not, but that [to let them say goodbye] was not the reason why I changed them.
“James said he will make a decision at the end of the season. It depends on what he wants to do with his future.
“He is an important player, he gave us a lot in the whole year, but in the same way he has to decide what is best for him.”
Pellegrini also does not seem to be sweating over his future, despite failing to retain the Premier League title and presiding over a generally underwhelming campaign, as he spoke of a positive relationship with chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
“I am always talking with Khaldoon so I don’t need a special meeting with him,” he added. “But of course at the end of the season you must meet and analyse what we did, where we made mistakes, where I think we must improve.
“We have very good communication, so we don’t have any problems in that sense.”
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