Last Saturday, Manchester City were finally given the chance to lift the Premier League trophy, as the reward for being the best team in England. It was a fitting trophy for them; after all, they played the best football in England over 30-odd games and they sat comfortably on top of the pile longer than anyone else. Watching the celebrations, a Sky Sports presenter followed one of the Man City players for an interview. The player spoke calmly about winning the trophy for the 3rd time and how well-deserved it was for the team. Left-Back Mendy cuts in during this interview, taking the microphone from the presenter and starts yelling “Yaya Toure, we love you…Man City loves you…we will miss you” before walking away. The interview continues after before the interviewee walks away to continue his part in the celebrations.
Yaya Toure may have been low-key in that interview, and he probably has been in the last 2 years, but his career at Man City has been far from quiet (in a good way). By the end of his time there, it will be clear that he is a living Man City and Premier League legend. Yaya Toure was signed to herald the new Man City; the City team with its own superstars that would challenge Man United and earn its place as an elite European club. Now, the club has achieved that status and Toure has been a huge part of that.
When he signed for City, I thought he was just another holding midfielder. He proved to be so much more. He was, in my opinion, the best all-round midfield player in the EPL between 2012 and 2014. I saw him as untouchable in Man City. He was too powerful a player (literally) and he proved it in many games, especially in the title-winning seasons (barring this last one). I’m sure Arsenal fans wished he was playing for their club (because he could have) as he was the Viera replacement they’ve been asking for. He could control games on his own, and the decision to explore his abilities further up on the pitch has proved to be a masterstroke.
When I think about the free-kicks (damn… the free kicks), I remember the magic about them. Kompany mentioned it in an interview that Toure didn’t really practice taking free-kicks; which means he just gave them a go. You have to have a lot of confidence in your own ability to pull that off. Besides that, he scored all sorts of goals, most of them emphatic. They are too many to count but if you saw the goal against Sunderland in the 2014 League Cup final, you will know what I’m talking about. He was that good.
Guardiola’s arrival signaled the end of Toure’s influence at City. Forget that birthday drama, the both of them were never gonna work out. We saw it at Barcelona, when Toure was much younger (not to talk of now that he’s turning 35). He was never the hardest trainer (he has mentioned his distaste for pre-season in the past) but he was one of the best players once he got on the pitch.
I loved watching him play and while I wish I saw more of him in the last 2 seasons, I know that the 6 seasons prior to 2016 have given me enough memories to go away with. Yaya Toure deserves his place as a true PL great because he created his spot on the elite table. I read an article by Frank Lampard recently about the man and he gave the best line I could use to describe Yaya Toure: He was bought to be a superstar – and he lived up to it.
His place is definitely up there with the greats, I’m just glad I witnessed the entire process.