Yaya Touré: The Game-Changer that built Manchester City
After 8 years, the Ivorian is departing Eastlands. Chris Weir considers his impact in Manchester
Yaya Touré won’t be remembered for a lashing finish against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. He won’t be remembered for his reinvention as an attacking midfielder after spending the bulk of his career as a deep destroyer at Monaco and Barcelona. He won’t be remembered either, for being the most important player in a team that built a winning legacy around him.
Football is too cruel for that. Memories are too short. After 8 glorious years, the Ivorian will be remembered chiefly as the protagonist to one of football’s most ring-worn anecdotes. His club didn’t celebrate his 31st birthday with sufficient gusto, and so a novel’s worth of tongue-in-cheek headlines were born. In an era of hair-thin attention spans and half-baked Twitter analysis, that’s as far as most will delve.
Touré took a chance on Manchester City. In 2010, he was in the prime of his career, winning a place in Barcelona’s starting eleven after serving a gruelling apprenticeship in Belgium and Ukraine. His reputation had been fought for, clawed into shape whilst in the shadow of his older brother Kolo. Pep Guardiola might have shown him the door in Catalonia, but the midfielder could have gone anywhere. He chose a destination big on cash but small on stature.
Touré was a revelation in England. He was everything a midfielder needed to be, strength and power alloyed with an unmatched technique and intelligence. He could decide whole games by himself, and he frequently did, a gliding menace who was unstoppable when on form.
Nobody, with the possible exceptions of Vincent Company and David Silva, represent City’s halcyon new era more than him. It was Touré, back in 2012, who settled the title race with a precise long-range finish against Newcastle at St. James’ Park.
Everybody remembers Sergio Aguero’s iconic finish against Q.P.R some days later. Fewer consider that such a moment wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Touré’s heroics in that unlikely 2-0 victory.
He might tell you that his heritage has something to do with that. It’s a claim made by Samuel Eto’o too; that African excellence often fails to garner the recognition it deserves. But there was never anything ‘raw’ about this midfield lynchpin. His size and strength could never match up with a movement that was often devastating brilliant movement and a trademark curling shot that rippled the net constantly.
Touré flipped the bird to the establishment, obliterating the Mourinho-Ferguson axis with his awesome quality. He made the Premier League better and, no matter where he goes, he will he be remembered as one of its greatest ever midfielders. Risk-taker, game-changer, champion.
How important has Touré been for City? Let us know below!