La Liga

Yayaya …Just Tell Us Who You’re Gonna Play For

Yaya Touré; the ‘guvnor’, The Don, the big cheese, the big brutish cheddar guarding the Barca midfield… you get the picture.

Anyway, Touré is largely respected as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and he’s been heavily linked with an imminent move to the Premier League (Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea all recently mooted), so let’s take a look at the Ivorian international.

Born in Bouaké, Ivory Coast, Yaya comes from a true football family: the brother of both Man City’s Kolo and Ibrahim who currently plays for Al-Ittihad in Syria (not quite Barcelona or Man City but lets not bully him). After coming through the ASEC Mimosas youth academy, he enjoyed spells at Belgian side Beveren and Ukrainian outfit Metalurh Donetsk, before progressing to Olympiacos in 2005 and A.S Monaco  year later. Here he gained a glowing reputation as a governing midfield force, leading to his brother Kolo nicknaming him ‘the new Patrick Vieira’.

Now, only last week I wrote about another defensive midfielder (Stéphane M’bia) who has also had this label thrust upon him, which I felt was probably unfair but also practical. So what I’m going to do is copy and paste (tap, tap, tap on the old mouse) and apply the same sentiments here: ‘he has, inevitably, been compared to Patrick Vieira; due to his position, strength on the ball, tackling, imposing stature and also given the fact that anyone of a similar ilk is usually reductively equated to the Vieira base-point, offering an easy and lazy depiction, even though it is never particularly helpful to have this excessive expectation thrust upon you… unfortunately, in repeating all this, I’ve just done the same thing’.

Well, now I’ve gone and repeated it again and further perpetuated this problem, in the laziest and most regurgitated manner; so well done me, three cheers to clever old Mr. Me, what a s**t I am. (Actually, no, it is apt, and justifiable, plus it was his brother, his very own brother, his flesh and blood, that first wield out the comparison, meaning my copy and paste generic vomit is fine, so just you get off my back, yeah?!)

Anyhow, he does share similarities with the Frenchman (and, incidentally, he is also a better and more complete player than M’bia), hence it was these abilities which made him a target for Barcelona – eventually signing for €9million in 2007. As a defensive midfielder at Barcelona he became the perfect foil for the more attacking, and indeed physically slighter, outlets. A dominant defensive force, but also possessing good technique and distribution, he played a valuable role in the mass trophy haul of 2008/09.

However, he seems to have gradually found himself out of favour at the Camp Nou. Hence, noises have been getting louder regarding a move to the Premiership. His agent has suggested he has already agreed terms with a team in England, but will not reveal which club. The likes of Man City and Chelsea have been highlighted as potential destinations, whilst Arsenal are known to have been following his progress for a number of years.

He’ll be starring as part of Sven’s Ivory Coast side during the World Cup, but it’ll be interesting to see where he subsequently ends up. He is clearly a very good player, one who would bolster most teams, but (when available) Essien fills the same role effectively at Chelsea. Speculation is still mounting regarding a player-plus-cash deal for Fabregas but Man City seems the most likely destination if reported contract wrangles don’t scupper the process. So could the once branded ‘new Vieira’ be set to replace the very much older Vieira at City? See how the world ties itself up nicely.

Where do you think he’ll end up and would you want him?

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jonathanellisTT

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