Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has denied he had a fight with Mario Balotelli, claiming he "loves" the Italian.
Reports earlier this week suggested the pair were involved in a physical confrontation after the Citizens' 3-3 draw with Sunderland on Saturday, in a week in which Balotelli was given a dressing down in training by manager Roberto Mancini.
But Toure, quoted in The Daily Mail, said: "It's not true. I am a footballer, not a boxer.
"People don't know my relationship with Mario. He's not my friend, he's my brother and I love him."
Toure and Balotelli also purportedly had a tunnel bust up at half-time during a 1-0 defeat away at Swansea last month, on the same day neighbours United leapfrogged them to the top of the Premier League table for the first time since October.
However the Ivorian denied that had occurred as well.
"They said I fought with Mario at Swansea and against Sunderland," the 28-year-old continued.
Is Garry Cook Toure's brother too?
"That shocked me. My lawyers called me about this and it was the first I knew about it.
"To say we had a fight is very sad. It upset me and I feel sorry for Mario. He suffers most from these things.
"At half-time against Sunderland it was very difficult. But everybody was quiet. We were just looking at each other, trying to find a way to turn the result.
"But I didn't even talk to Mario. The next day he sent me a text message saying, 'Apparently we had a fight'. I just want to stop people writing and thinking that."
Toure and Balotelli were however filmed talking on the pitch prior to the second-half beginning at the Liberty stadium.
Subsequent draws since the Swansea loss away to Stoke and against the Mackems at the weekend have left City five points adrift of the Reds, who have not dropped points in the league since 5 February.
City face their neighbours on 30 April, but have four games to play prior to the fourth derby of the season, starting with a trip to Arsenal on Sunday.
More:Mario Balotelli Manchester City 3-3 Sunderland Manchester City Yaya Toure Manchester United UK Sport
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