Image from: standard.co.uk
Yaya Toure followed a well travelled route from the Ivory Coast to get into European football, joining KSK Beveren as a youngster, like many others. In 2004 he moved to Metalurg Donetsk as a central midfielder with great promise, mainly as a defensive midfielder.
Over the next few years he moved around a lot, from Donetsk to Olympiacos and then on to Monaco, with just one year to 18 months at each club, building a reputation as a powerful defensive midfielder, who could cover further forward. His year at AS Monaco led to Barcelona buying him to shore up their midfield with his power, height and pace all being highly rated.
At Barcelona, he was often used to cover at centre back, as they, even then, never seemed to have a settled pairing that could stay fit consistently. With that in mind, it was a bit of a shock when Manchester City paid big money to sign him and then Roberto Mancini proceeded to play him as an attacking midfielder.
With just 6 goals to his name at Barca, it seemed an odd decision and for the first few months it was much criticised:
Those 6 goals do showcase the things that make him so good as a driving force in midfield.
You can see the quick feet, power and pace that make those irresistible runs almost unstoppable when he begins driving forward at a defence, and you can also see the thunderbolt of a shot that has allowed him to become a regular goalscorer from midfield in his new role. It is no wonder that he has become Africa's best known current player, with Ivory Coast handing him the national captaincy.
On his day Yaya is possibly the most complete midfielder in world football:
He has not just got skill, quick feet, the height and power to dominate in the air and on the ground, he has developed the ability over the years to play an excellent deadball, contributing goals from free kicks around the edge of the box. Add to that his vision and awareness has improved to a massive degree, allowing him to be extremely creative, to add to the destructive abilities he demonstrated in a defensive role with Barca.
There are issues with him, even you forget about the off field mercenary attitude that took him to Citeh in the first place, and led to him kicking up a stink about a birthday cake in an attempt to move on so he can add yet another signing fee to his bank account. The issues I am referring to are on the pitch, despite his brilliance when playing well.
There are times when you watch him and he just literally can not be bothered, when he barely breaks sweat, particularly defensively, as he now seems to just watch opponents run past him making little effort to challenge. With the season just gone seeing him mainly playing as part of a central midfield pairing, that often left his partner exposed and overrun.
It has become almost accepted that after he has been away with his country, he will put in a number of lacklustre performances for club, usually put down to tiredness. Yaya, for me, is not tired, he is just lacking desire, he just loses focus and only wants to put in effort when it suits him.
How long do you put up with a player that can be the best midfielder in the world, when he is not even trying? When his poor performances are becoming more frequent than his good ones, you really do have to wonder what to do with him.
On a good day he will win you a game, on a bad day he will lose you one, last season he was a weak link in far too many games. It is time Yaya stepped up and once again shows people why he was arguably the best attacking midfielder in the world.
Written by Tris Burke
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