Rui Vieira/Associated Press
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure is reportedly keen on extending his playing career after leaving the club this summer and wants to join another Premier League team.
It was confirmed by City boss Pep Guardiola on Friday that this term would be Toure’s last at the Etihad Stadium, bringing an end to a memorable eight-year stint in sky blue.
According to Paul Hirst of the Times, the 34 year old “wants to continue playing and his preference is to remain in England.”
Speaking about the Ivory Coast international ahead of this weekend’s game against Huddersfield Town in the Premier League, Guardiola outlined just how important he believes Toure has been in the finest era in City history, per Sky Sports News:
Sky Sports News @SkySportsNews
3️⃣1️⃣5️⃣ appearances 8️⃣2️⃣ goals “Yaya came here at the start of the journey. Where we are now is because of what he has done.” Is Yaya Touré @ManCity’s greatest ever player? Yaya Toure to leave #MCFC this summer, says Pep Guardiola: https://t.co/nS7UUJP8CP https://t.co/Vva4UB1yy2
At his best Toure was a force of nature in English football’s top flight, as he bossed many a midfield battle for City.
The consensus was when he joined from Barcelona in 2010 that the ex-Monaco man was a defensively-minded footballer, having underpinned the Blaugrana midfield under Guardiola. At times, most notably in the 2009 UEFA Champions League final, he even operated as a central defender.
However, at City he was given license to clatter forward by manager Roberto Mancini and his incredible surges through midfield became something of a trademark. As noted by Squawka Football, he has been an all-round performer:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Yaya Toure’s record for Man City in the Premier League: 229 games 311 tackles won 302 take-ons completed 281 chances created 188 interceptions 59 goals 32 assists The epitome of a box-to-box midfielder https://t.co/mBEMh00WiJ
What made Toure so special was his ability to stand up in big games. When City won the 2010-11 FA Cup he netted winners in both the semi-final against Manchester United and the final against Stoke City.
Jon Super/Associated Press
Then in the season after he scored twice on the penultimate day away at an in-form Newcastle United to put City in pole position to win the Premier League title.
Two seasons later Toure finished with 20 league goals, as he was once again the driving force behind another title win. Former City skipper Paul Lake outlined some of his best memories of the player:
Paul Lake @Paul_Lake
Yaya Touré has given me some of the finest moments I’ve ever witnessed as a City fan. 1) FA Cup SF April ‘11, 2) St James’ Park May ‘12 and 3) one of the best strikes I’ve ever seen, at March ‘14 League Cup. Thanks for the memories, big fella #Yaya #mcfc
It proved to be the high-point of his City career, as he’s struggled to recapture those levels since. Toure is no longer the most mobile of footballers and if he is to keep playing, would need to have energetic operators alongside him in midfield.
Still, for the right team there’s no denying Toure could still do a job, as he remains technically excellent and intelligent on the ball. Journalist Tom Victor joked he could be an asset for a side like West Ham, who signed former City star Pablo Zabaleta last summer:
Any team that gets Toure will be getting a player with the penchant to change a match with a piece of brilliance and a steely mentality in big contests. However, he’d need to be accommodated and at 34 is only a short-term fix to any issues.
Toure has two games left in front of his home supporters, including Sunday’s clash with Huddersfield that’ll see the legendary midfielder lift his third Premier League title.