MANCHESTER: Yaya Toure has confirmed he will stay at Manchester City, and is confident the club's summer recruitment will see them challenge for major honours next season.
The Ivory Coast midfielder looked to be on his way out of the Etihad Stadium, following a trophyless 2014-15 campaign, and was linked in reports with clubs including Inter Milan and Chelsea.
Toure's agent had earlier said the player would remain with City, having been assured he was a key figure in the club's future by owner Sheikh Mansour.
And the 32-year-old has now spoken on the matter himself, telling the Manchester Evening News: "I will definitely stay. The fans don't have to be worried.
"My target this year is to try to do everything possible to make this team improve well and I am sure with my experience, maybe I hope, with the players coming in a couple of weeks, a couple of months, definitely it is going to be a strong City next year."
City finished eight points adrift of champions Chelsea in the recently completed Barclays Premier League season, and Toure has his eyes set not only on regaining the top domestic silverware but also on European glory.
"It is one of my big targets because City have been in the shadow of United for so long," he said.
"Sometimes their fans are coming back, saying we are the top because we have already won the Champions League.
"What I want for the fans is the Champions League. I will do everything that's possible."
Toure has not been at his best this term after a highly impressive 2012-13 season, but vowed to come back refreshed in August after a summer break.
"I am looking at next season and I will start working again, because last season there has been a lot of football for me," said Toure, who played in last summer's World Cup finals in Brazil and in Ivory Coast's victorious 2015 African Nations Cup campaign in Equatorial Guinea.
He also had to deal with the loss of his brother Ibrahim to cancer last year.
"There were difficult moments as well emotionally and physically," he added. "Now is a good time to rest and next season you are going to see the top one."
Toure's agent Dimitri Seluk earlier said the player had been assured by the club's owner that he had a big role to play.
Seluk said in the Sunday Mirror: "Yaya is staying - because Sheikh Mansour told him he must stay.
"Mansour told Yaya that he is still a very important player and that he was the first big player to join City after the takeover.
"He told him that City wouldn't even discuss a sale.
"This is good. People have tried to say that Yaya only wanted more money, but it was never about money. It was only about respect."
Seluk had previously claimed Toure was "90 per cent certain" to leave City at the end of the season.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini repeatedly stated his desire to hang on to the midfielder, who has two seasons left on his contract.
Photos: Swara Bhaskar, Sonali Kulkarni at Jagran Film Festival awards
Pics: Shahid Kapoor's transformation from chocolate boy to hottie
Photos: Kareena Kapoor Khan and Aamir Khan at Mumbai airport
Photos: SRK, wife Gauri, Aishwarya Rai, Shweta Bachchan at Vogue Awards
Photos: Harbhajan Singh-Geeta Basra's TV outing with daughter Hinaya