Is Yaya Toure's career at Manchester City over?

As soon as Manchester City announced Pep Guardiola as their new manager in the spring, onlookers feared for the future of Yaya Toure. The Ivorian was less than impressive in Manuel Pellegrini’s final season at Eastlands, and was dropped for several important games towards the end of last term.

Toure has established himself as a City legend, an instrumental part of two title winning teams. He was a devastating force without equal in the Premier League, a player who was signed as a holding midfielder and transformed himself a goalscoring attacking midfielder. The issue in recent times is that he has become a player who has to be accommodated, because he has neither the ability nor the will to put in a diligent defensive performance. Once opposition midfielders find space in behind him, he’s out of the game.

Guardiola wants midfield players who can pass and run. Toure can still pass the ball, you don’t lose technique such as his in a hurry, but can no longer do the running. Once, City would have played him in a No 10 position because they could not afford to lose his offensive output. However, with David Silva back to his best, Kevin de Bruyne a potent goalscoring threat, Raheem Sterling revitalised and new boy Nolito firmly embedded in the team, City are no longer reliant on his qualities.

 

It barely needs to be stressed that Toure does not fit in with Guardiola’s demanding style without the ball, who he wants his players to sprint to opponents and try to win the ball back within six seconds of losing it. Anybody who has watched Toure over the past two seasons knows he is not capable of doing this. Added to this, Guardiola sold Toure to Manchester City after he was part of Champions League winning team at Barcelona (though such decisions are usually taken above the head of the manager at Barcelona).

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A conversion to his old position of centre back could be a possibility for Toure, albeit an unlikely one. Guardiola likes having centre backs who can play incisive passes from deep, and has moved back Javi Martinez and Javier Mascherano back in the past. John Stones has been bought to do just this, and Guardiola used Toure in this position at Barcelona. At 33 however, Toure may not have the turn of foot to cope as a centre back at Manchester City, with Guardiola demanding his defenders are comfortable defending high up the pitch. Apart from such concerns, it is also doubtful whether Toure would have the desire to re-learn this position.

 

So it seems that Toure’s time as a first team player at City is virtually over. However, the uncertainty around his future arises when you consider the astronomic salary he is on. With the exception of a few elite clubs on the continent (who presumably wouldn’t want him), no European club has the funds to match Toure’s wages which are more than £200,000 per week. As Arsene Wenger spoke about in a recent press conference, this is going to become a massive problem for English clubs as the new TV money begins to take effect.

English clubs are being asked to pay inflated transfer fees by clubs on the continent to get the players that they want. If for instance, an English club pays £30 million for a player, they will pay him the salary that reflects such an outlay, typically on a four or five-year contract. However, if that player fails to settle or proves to be a failure, the English club faces a hard time moving them on. City are finding this with Joe Hart, with reports stating that they may have to keep paying a majority of his wages.

The danger is that the Premier League becomes an isolated market, with only English clubs able to afford players from English clubs. Toure’s situation is one that will keep cropping up in the next few years. Only a move to China seems financially viable at this point.

Feature image: All rights reserved by jhonsneidermonsalveagudelo

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