THE domestic football season is still to be concluded this weekend but already the silly season of transfer gossip is in full swing.

Even before any of the top players wanting a “fresh challenge” have had the chance to put themselves in the shop window at the World Cup, the rumour mill is going full pelt.

And no story hit the headlines this week as much as Yaya Toure’s supposed unhappiness at Manchester City – just because they did not push the boat out for his birthday.

Maybe a boat would have sufficed as a present – I mean what do you buy a man who is on more than £200,000-a-week, adored by his club’s fans after spearheading his team to a second Premier League title in three years and is likely to be Ivory Coast’s main driving force in Brazil next month?

His agent may then have been satisfied his client was respected enough.

All this after the alleged lack of a birthday cake for Toure upset him. He’s lucky he doesn’t work at The Bolton News towers – he would have had to bring the cakes in himself on his birthday then, though there is never a shortage on offer for those with a sweet tooth if he ever wants to pop by.

The debate goes on as to what the future holds for the superstar. Was it the first play in an exit strategy? Remember, this is a player who was already talking about his desire for a return to Barcelona on the day he signed for City from the Catalan giants back in 2010.

It is more likely, however, that he will stay as it is hard to see City wanting to lose a prized asset – much like the Carlos Tevez situation a few years back.

Like Tevez then, Toure isn’t the first footballer to believe he holds all the cards in these modern times of player power at the highest level.

Only 12 months ago there were much-publicised comments from Wayne Rooney saying he was “angry and confused” by Manchester United’s treatment of him as speculation he was trying to engineer a move to Chelsea was rife. The transfer window closed and within weeks, Rooney had penned a new improved five-year deal at Old Trafford.

Luis Suarez is another case in point. A year ago he openly admitted he wanted to leave Liverpool, citing his disillusionment with his lot at Anfield and the treatment of the English media. A stunning season of goalscoring form later and he is happy to take the plaudits of that very same press pack and take home the Football Writers’ Association player of the year award.

We hear he is much happier with life in England now but who is to say his mind doesn’t wander if a big bid from Real Madrid or Barcelona was to crop up this summer?

Ultimately, the top players still dictate their own futures regardless of contracts – if they want out, more often than not it happens.

After a sabbatical for the World Cup, expect that transfer merry-go-round to go into overdrive.