Manchester City will miss Yaya Toure when he goes - the midfielder accelerated the club's learning curve and delivered trophies

  • Yaya Toure arrived at Manchester City in 2010 from Barcelona
  • He has led City to two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup
  • If he departs City in the summer, the club will find it hard to replace him

Those surprised at Yaya Toure's apparent desire to talk himself in to a transfer from Manchester City this week should not be. The Ivorian's CV tells the story of a player who has always placed pragmatism above sentiment when it comes to his choice of clubs.

Toure, for example, left home as a teenager to play in the Belgian second division. Following that came some formative years playing for Metalurh Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. History also tells us that Toure, now almost 32, never stays in one place too long.

Equally, though, Toure's rather clumsy statements of recent times should not be allowed to detract from his legacy at City and indeed in the Barclays Premier League.

It looks likely Yaya Toure may leave Manchester City this summer but his legacy should be a positive one

It looks likely Yaya Toure may leave Manchester City this summer but his legacy should be a positive one

Toure has struggled to impose himself upon games for City in the manner seen in previous seasons

Toure has struggled to impose himself upon games for City in the manner seen in previous seasons

Toure's time at City is defined as a success, bringing two Premier League titles to the Etihad

Toure's time at City is defined as a success, bringing two Premier League titles to the Etihad

It looks extremely likely that he will leave England this summer. Toure has started to play and sound like an unhappy footballer, the social alliance he has formed with the Etihad's enfant terrible Samir Nasri hardly helping.

If and when he does go, though, it is for his extraordinary contribution on the field – and not the unfortunate noise that has started to surround him - for which he should be remembered.

At his club, Toure has been fundamental to City's transition from wealthy hopefuls to twice champions. Back in 2010, he arrived as a statement signing - a £24m fee and £1m a month – for a club determined to accelerate its own learning curve. 

It worked and, on a wider scale, he has simply been one of the most watchable footballers our league has ever seen in its modern form.

I once asked a member of City's coaching staff if there was anybody quicker at the club than Micah Richards. He replied: 'Yes, Yaya. Not over the first few yards but when he gets going he is unstoppable. He's like a truck heading downhill without the brakes.'

Premier League defenders would testify to that but there was always more to him. Toure possesses an intelligent football brain, the vision required of all top class central players and a sureness of touch. He has also had a demeanour that has allowed him the confidence to play just about anywhere on the field.

This, remember, is a man who played as a central defender in a Champions League final against Manchester United. The first time he had ever played that position, he faced off with Cristiano Ronaldo as Barcelona won in Rome in 2009.

'We had a good team so it was not that hard for me that night,' Toure told this newspaper in December 2011.

Toure (right) demonstrated his versatily by shackling Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2009 Champions League final

Toure (right) demonstrated his versatily by shackling Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2009 Champions League final

Midfield player Toure (left) signed for City for a fee of £24million from Barcelona in 2010

Midfield player Toure (left) signed for City for a fee of £24million from Barcelona in 2010

Mark Hughes, the then City boss, begun a plan to sign Kolo Toure in an attempt to entice Yaya along

Mark Hughes, the then City boss, begun a plan to sign Kolo Toure in an attempt to entice Yaya along

In that same interview, Toure admitted that he liked to listen to Whitney Houston in his car on the way to training.

'That other music makes my head hurt,' he laughed.

A detail that had been leaked rather mischievously by his brother Kolo, it pointed to a relationship that went straight to the heart of Toure's presence at the Etihad Stadium.

Though he didn't arrive at City until five summers ago, City's pursuit of Toure had actually started eighteen months earlier in the January window of 2009. Stunned by a home FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest, City's then manager Mark Hughes presented the club's board with a list of transfer targets. 

Toure, then in his Barcelona pomp, was on it and so, cleverly, was his brother.

The plan was straight forward. Sign Kolo and maybe Yaya would follow. The two brothers – as close as could be – had always wanted to play together domestically and Kolo's subsequent recruitment from Arsenal in the summer of 2009 was the trigger for the arrival of Yaya a year later.

Sadly for Hughes, sacked at Christmas later that year, he wasn't around to see his plan come together. Nevertheless, Yaya's arrival remains one of the pivotal moments in the development of the modern Manchester City.

The plan worked, with both Ivory Coast players gradually signing, but Hughes had been sacked by then

The plan worked, with both Ivory Coast players gradually signing, but Hughes had been sacked by then

Toure (left) is a quiet figure away from the field and refuted reports of a fall-out with Mario Balotelli

Toure (left) is a quiet figure away from the field and refuted reports of a fall-out with Mario Balotelli

Toure (centre) led City to the Premier League title 2012 and inspired an important victory at Newcastle

Toure (centre) led City to the Premier League title 2012 and inspired an important victory at Newcastle

Away from the field, the lumbering Toure has always been a relatively gentle soul.

When he ordered a 50inch TV from a store in South Manchester soon after his arrival in the area, he was immediately told by wife Gineba to return it. It was simply too big – she said – which was interesting given that on the same day she had taken delivery of a dressing table with Swarovski diamonds embedded in the drawer handles.

When, in April 2012, Toure was accused in print of arguing with Mario Balotelli during half-time of a game against Sunderland he invited Sportsmail to talk to him.

'I love Mario,' he said. 'I am going to take him on holiday to Africa.'

That trip never took place but on the field Toure fulfilled the promises he made when he arrived.

A winning goal in an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United in 2011 was followed by another, against Stoke City, in the final. City were up and running and when Toure scored from 30 yards at Newcastle a year later, a first Premier League title was on its way. 

For a while, he was almost unstoppable.

Toure (left) also led City to FA Cup glory in 2011 with a decisive goal against United in the semi-final

Toure (left) also led City to FA Cup glory in 2011 with a decisive goal against United in the semi-final

Toure also scored City's winning goal against Stoke City in the FA Cup final in 2011

Toure also scored City's winning goal against Stoke City in the FA Cup final in 2011

Toure lifts the FA Cup aloft after scoring in the final against Stoke
Toure will be missed when he draws his time at City to a close

Toure delivered the trophies that he was brought in to do and will be missed at City when he departs

This season, Toure has not been at his best. He has, at times, looked his age. His manager Manuel Pellegrini hasn't always helped by asking him to play as part of a holding two in midfield when it has been apparent for a while that he is now most effective as a modern day number ten, free of defensive obligations.

City still win lots of games when Toure starts, though. They will miss him when he goes. The footprints he leaves behind will be deep ones.

 

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