Yaya Touré ’s career at Manchester City has been on a downward spiral in recent times, with the midfielder, who not so long ago was indispensable and synonymous with the club’s finest hour, now missing from the starting lineup.
Since new coach Pep Guardiola arrived at the Citizens at the start of the season, Touré has been an outsider in the team. Meanwhile, the player’s agent Dimitri Seluk has been his usual controversial and obnoxious self, spewing verbal diarrhoea and taking issue with decisions made by the club and their new coach.
One such decision was Guardiola choosing to omit the combative midfielder from his UEFA Champions League squad, which came as a surprise to many.
As ever, Seluk’s inflated ego on behalf of his client and his unkind words have done more damage than good, with Guardiola stating this week that Touré would not play until his agent issued an apology for his outbursts.
Touré is no spring chicken but his work rate and ability have not suffered to the same degree as others of the same age.
Guardiola previously coached Touré at Barcelona, where they won the 2008-09 Champions League title together, but he was also the tactician who sanctioned a transfer of the Ivorian to Man City in 2010.
Now a successful Man City career is in danger of unravelling. At 33, Touré is no spring chicken but his work rate and ability have not suffered to the same degree as others of the same age. He still has a great deal to offer the club, not purely from a physical perspective, but also as a leader.
He successfully captained the side at times under former coach Manuel Pellegrini and was highly respected by his fellow team-mates. His leadership was exemplary and his excellent performances often earned him man of the match recognition. He made a habit of coming up with several winning goals; further testament to his determination and high energy levels in the latter stages of matches.
His ability as a skipper, or at the very least a super sub that commands respect from his colleagues, becomes even more useful when one considers the poor attendance record of club captain Vincent Kompany due to injuries. The Belgian once again limped off in the dying minutes of their victory over Swansea City this week in League Cup action with another injury – in his first start of the season.
In terms of depth in the squad Touré should also be valued for his versatility and ability to fill in and contribute when injuries or a packed schedule inevitably wreak havoc on a team with ambitions of doing well in numerous competitions.
His form and fitness are questionable at the moment, but with sufficient game-time he will no doubt rise to the occasion and put his Premier League experience to good use.
Touré has built a legacy at the club, and his contribution over the last few seasons cannot be ignored in weighing up his worth. He was instrumental in Manchester City’s Premier League title triumphs in 2011-12 and 2013-14, as well as the FA Cup in 2011 when he scored the only goals in the semi-final and final.
The difficult decision to retire from the national team must in some part be aimed at prolonging his club career.
The player this week announced his decision to hang up his international boots, calling time on his national team career only months before he was due to lead the Elephants into AFCON battle to defend their African crown.
The difficult decision to retire from the national team must in some part be aimed at prolonging his club career, which should also serve as a message to Guardiola about the midfielder’s willingness to fight for a place in the team and forgo the tournament that would see him missing a month or two of action while on international duty in Gabon.
It seems, however, that Guardiola has little interest in having Touré involved in much first team action, with the four-time African Player of the Year involved in only one game under the Spaniard at City – in the Champions League play-off second leg dead rubber against Steaua Bucharest.
Guardiola’s Man City is flying, having won the last nine consecutive matches, and the Spaniard will argue that he has done that without the African midfielder’s contribution, but that does not mean that his place in the squad to add depth and another experienced point of reference is not valuable going forward.
Touré no doubt has the energy, leadership and experience to offer the club, and it would be wise for him to be used in order to make the most of these attributes; that is if Guardiola and the former Elephants captain (and more importantly his agent) can settle their differences and focus on what is best for Manchester City.