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Balotelli and Tevez both missed - Toure

ESPN staff
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Yaya Toure says Mario Balotelli was like a brother to him © Getty Images
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Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure would be delighted to be drawn against AC Milan or Juventus in the knockout stage of the Champions League since he misses Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez.

The trio celebrated City's first Premier League crown together - their first league title in 44 years - but that group has since been split, with Toure saying he lost two of his closest friends.

"Mario's not a friend, he's a brother to me," Toure told the Gazzetta dello Sport's Extra Time insert.

"I really like him and I was very sad when he moved to Milan. But he had all of the English press on his back, the paparazzi were following him everywhere and never left him alone. They were always attacking him, no matter what he did.

"It was difficult for him to control that situation: living alone in a big house, with his friends and lots of money, being famous. I tried to give him some advice and to help him, explain to him how professionals live."

Toure believes he would have left an indelible mark on English football, in a positive sense. "True friends exist, like my Ivorian team-mates and like my ex-boss [Roberto] Mancini, who helped me a great deal," Toure said.

"He was always close to me when I arrived here and he gave me chances, explaining to me what a real champion is.

"[That's] somebody who trains hard to avoid injuries, is focused and takes care of what they eat. Roberto was a fantastic player and he taught me a lot."

Tevez fits into the same category, according to the Ivory Coast international, who also misses having the Argentinian around. "He's superb; my favourite attacker, I love him," Toure said. "He works hard, is a great professional and a friend. Juve are going to do well with him. I'd love him to return here in the Champions League, like Mario with Milan. I'm waiting for them. When I lost them, I was upset."

Toure's sadness was only temporary, though, with more important things on his mind, falling only just short of world domination. "I hope we win the Premier League and the FA Cup this season, and go as far as we can in the Champions League," he said. "But my biggest personal goal is to try to be always one of the best players in the world."

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