The fading brilliance of Yaya Toure

The fading brilliance of Yaya Toure
Nov 6, 2016

Champions League Featured Manchester City

A familiar site to Manchester City’s ‘Class of 2012’, Yaya Toure receiving the ball deep, like a raging bull charging forwards. As much use as throwing a stone at a train the opposition defence desperately tried to stop the oncoming African, however their efforts proved futile. Toure, leaving players scattered behind him, is now bearing down on goal.

The result was the same ten times out of ten, a City goal. Bought from Barcelona in the summer of 2010 for £24 million Toure spearheaded the City revolution. A long servent of the Citizens Toure made his name as a box to box midfielder, despite dreaming of playing up front during his youth.

Come the curtain call of the 13/14 campaign Yaya Toure had completed 2170 passes, enough to top the league rankings. Furthermore, 1321 of those came in the opponents half, another league best. The most striking stat of Yaya’s season came in the form of his goals, he scored 18, 10 from deadball situations, this placed him third in the golden boot an achievement almost unheard of unless your second name is Lampard. Struridge and eventual winner Suarez were the only players to have found the back of net more than Toure.

A turbulent offseason ensued. What later became labelled as ‘Cakegate’ occurred. City’s annual preseason tour fell over Toure’s birthday. Despite the City YouTube channel posting a video dedicated to Toure and his birthday, Yaya’s agent, Dimitri Seluk, claimed that is client, Toure, was deeply upset about City not celebrating his birthday. What started as a small problem quickly escalated. Toure demanded a move away from the Etihad. Arguably Europes best central midfielder in the previous season was in high demand. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were rumoured for his signature with both parties highly interested in a move.

Ultimatly, it boiled down to nothing. The first match of the 14/15 season kicked off with Toure starting at central midfield. City won 2-0 thanks to a first half strike from David Silva and then an injury time strike from Sergio Aguero. Despite their fast start on the opening day, City found themselves in a string of sticky results. Toure was put a fault for the Citizens dip in form with the Ivorian suffering an out of character sluggish start to the season. More lacklustre performances followed even with Toure scoring his first goal of the season adjacent Aston Villa on the 4th of October.

There was something different about Yaya that season. The flair that blossomed in the previous season and the dominance that he had enjoyed were gone. Toure was seemingly starting to show his age, his fitness levels dipping had a direct affect on his performances. City fans started to turn on him, this was further magnified by his red card in a crucial match away against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

City’s form did pick up, however it was a case of too little too late and they finished the season second, eight points behind eventual champions Chelsea. Whilst for Yaya it didn’t, Toure struggled throughout the season and rumors about his imminent departure re-emerged.

Once more Toure remained. He started the season well, scoring on the opening day against West Brom. This ignited claims of the old Toure returning and last season being a one off. However, these were soon snuffed out with Yaya returning to his underwhelming form acting as a passenger in many of City’s games.

The Sky Blues were starting to look strong in the Champions League, they beat reigning French champions PSG. Advancing to the semi-finals, setting up the biggest game in the clubs history against Real Madrid. Toure found himself dropped form both fixtures. Pellegrini opting for the more defensive minded Fernando and the energetic Fernandinho.

The Champions League run would prove to Pellegrinis last hoorah as he departed the club a month later- replaced by Pep Guardiola. With Guardiola came a high energy pressing system, one Yaya Toure would not fit. Tipped by many to leave for the third season in a row Toure’s summer was cast in a shadow of uncertainty.

After months of speculation Toure looked destined to be leaving the Etihad for good. Yet there was once last twist in the tale when Yaya came out and said he wanted to stay and fight for his place. It created a mixed reaction from the city faithful; some happy to see fight rejuvinated in Yaya, others wanting him as far away from the first team as possible. I found myself in the middle of this spectrum. There was no doubt Toure was world class and his experience is valuable, however you do get the feeling he his holding the team back, much like Rooney at Man United.

Toure is yet to make a competitive appearance for City this season. He was exiled from squad over comments by his agent, Dimitri Seluk. Seluk accused Guardiola of treating players like dogs, condemning the departure of Joe Hart and how he treated Yaya. After a month of stalemate Toure himself finally voiced his opinion. Toure pleaded Seluk to apologies so he can once more play for City. The actions of the Ivorian prove that his heart is still in Manchester. However, passion doesn’t always make up for ability.

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