The Manchester City midfielder describes the Italian as “like a brother” and the Argentine as “my favourite striker”, and insists he would welcome both back to the Etihad Stadium
Yaya Toure hopes Manchester City draw Juventus or AC Milan in the Champions League – so he can welcome Mario Balotelli or Carlos Tevez back to Manchester.
City have three points from their first two matches in Europe’s premier club competition after beating Viktoria Plzen and losing to Bayern Munich as they bid to reach the knockout stages for the first time.
The next round could yield a meeting with one of Serie A’s giants, and Toure insists he would relish seeing either of his former team-mates again.
“I hope there will be the opportunity for Mario and Carlos to return to Manchester in the Champions League,” he told reporters. “I’m waiting for them here. When we lost them I felt bad.
“Mario is not just a friend, he is like a brother. I like him a lot and I was very unhappy when he went to Milan.
“The paparazzi followed him everywhere and never left him in peace.
“It was difficult for him. I tried to counsel him and help him.
“Carlos is superb, my favourite striker. I adore him.
“He is one who works hard, he is a great professional and friend. With him Juve will do very well.”
Toure also revealed he loves the freedom he has been given by new boss Manuel Pellegrini to rampage through opposition defences.
“Now I don’t only have to stay in front of the defence, as I did at Barca,” he added. “I am more free to play, to go forward and look for the goal. I have the possibility to run everywhere.
“The manager is open, very intelligent. He knows what he wants to help us improve.”
The Ivory Coast international is determined to make City one of the biggest clubs in the world – and gain personal recognition in the process.
“The Barca I left was already a great club and City wanted to become one,” he continued. “It was a great chance. They bought some excellent players and I said to myself, ‘This is the future’.
“I am ambitious and this year I hope we can win the Premier League and the FA Cup and go as far as possible in the Champions League.
“My most important objective is to become one of the best players in the world.
“The favourites for the Champions League are Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. As for City? First of all we want to get through the group stage, then we’ll see.”