Yaya Toure was greeted on his 32nd birthday by a message from team-mate Wilfried Bony urging him not to leave Manchester City.
Toure's future has again been the subject of speculation following comments from his outspoken agent Dimitri Seluk claiming the midfielder is "90 per cent certain" to move on this summer.
The muddied picture brings back memories of a year ago when Toure became embroiled in a farcical row over how the club celebrated his birthday. Seluk claimed City did not do enough for the player - with the lack of a cake becoming the bizarre focal point of his argument - and that led to a summer of conjecture over Toure's future.
With Toure's birthday now coming round again, City have seen the funny side of a serious issue with manager Manuel Pellegrini joking last week that "it is important to learn from the mistakes" of the past.
A betting firm also took it upon themselves to fly a banner over the Etihad at the weekend wishing him well while supporters sang 'Happy Birthday' when he Toure came off the bench.
But beyond a tweet from the club's Twitter account on the morning of his birthday - a gesture made to all players - there was no other public recognition of the occasion for what remains, beneath the surface, an important matter.
Bony is anxious for his Ivory Coast international colleague to remain at the Etihad Stadium. Toure was influential in the striker's move to City from Swansea in January and Bony is now hoping to be similarly persuasive in return.
Bony said: "I talk to him about it all the time. He knows what I think. He brought me here so he needs to stay.
"He told me about this being a big club, how we were the champions.
"He told me it was a club that always fights - and I am always a fighter so I liked that. He told me about the pressure, everything."
City fans have been doing all they can to make sure Toure stays.
They sang 'Happy Birthday' to the player during Sunday's 6-0 defeat of QPR and some supporters even created a giant card for the big Ivorian.
And City's players all want Toure to stay, according to Bony.
He said: "For sure everyone wants to keep him here.
"He's a legend for this club for sure, he always will be.
"We hope he stays, he's a big player here and we know everything he is doing for the club."
Toure featured for only 15 minutes last weekend as Pellegrini opted to ease him back into action off the bench after a spell out with a hamstring injury.
But the midfielder has not matched the high standards this season that he has set in previous years. He has scored just eight league goals so far this season, less than half the tally he amassed last year.
It has, however, been a difficult season both personally and physically, coming after the loss of his brother last summer and with the African Nations Cup interrupting the domestic campaign.
Bony thinks it is important not to be too hard on him.
"It's been difficult for him, but you have to remember it's been three years where there's been big tournaments, World Cup and the African Nations Cup," he said.
"You need to play a lot of matches, you are playing in high temperatures, it's not easy. Injuries can also occur in that time, the pressure and expectations are high.
"There are some things in football you can't control, like when the tournaments come round, when you get injured. You just have to try to deal with them and help the team."
As for Toure's latest birthday, the club are not overplaying the issue.
Their simple tweet, which was accompanied by photographs, read: "Join us in wishing YayaToure a very happy 32nd birthday today! #mcfc."
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