Yaya Touré in full flight, galloping towards goal with the ball at his feet and possessing a steely look in his eye that tells you he means business.
You've just thought up a defender's worst nightmare. Or even a holding midfielder's worst nightmare, for that matter.
This iconic Ivorian became the embodiment of a perfect modern midfielder, capable of doing pretty much everything on a football pitch, especially when it came to making a telling impact in the big games. Yaya Touré ticked all of the boxes for club and country and here's why.
In football, there's no hiding from numbers because they just don't lie. Yaya's goal-scoring ability from midfield, as well as his impressive trophy haul, made him one of Europe's elite operators and certainly one of the first names on a fantasy football player's roster.
Yaya Touré's personal trophy cabinet
- 🥇 4 x African Footballer of the Year
- 🌍 1 x Africa Cup of Nations title
- 🏆 1 x UEFA Champions League title
- 🦁 3 x Premier League titles
- 🎖 1 x FA Cup title
- 🎖 3 x English League Cup titles
- 🎖 1 x Community Shield title
- 🇪🇸 2 x LaLiga titles
- 🇪🇸 1 x Copa Del Rey title
- 🇪🇸 1 x Spanish Super Cup title
- 🌍 1 x Club World Cup title
- 🎖 1 x UEFA Super Cup title
- 🇬🇷 1 x Greek title
- 🇬🇷 1 x Greek Cup title
For Manchester City, Touré's output of 79 goals & 50 assists in 316 appearances is an outstanding return for a central midfielder.
Effortless elegance, power and swashbuckling style made Yaya Touré a genuine force of nature. Pundits and fans still argue about what position he actually filled best; no defensive midfielder scores that many goals, yet no offensively-minded playmaker is that strong and domineering. Combine all of these qualities into one devastatingly complete package and the result was a unique talent who didn't fit into conventional moulds. His career was a joy to behold just from a purely aesthetic point of view.
Aside from the quantitative data and statistics, Yaya also had that inbuilt X-factor that footballers need if they are to excel at the highest level. A box-to-box (and in the later years a purely attacking) midfielder, Touré did his best work in the final third of the pitch. He was a destructive player who could barge past his midfield opponents as if they weren't there. However, in the 2009 Champions League final, he was deployed at centre-back by then-Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola against Manchester United, and he didn't look out of place. Barcelona won 2-0 to become Champions of Europe yet again, and Touré had a clean sheet against Sir Alex Ferguson's men in club football's biggest match in a relatively unfamiliar position.
Plenty is said about Sergio Agüero's dramatic goal against QPR on the final day of the 2011/12 season, but credit must also go to Touré whose brace against Newcastle on the season's penultimate game week kept City in the mix going into matchday 38. His goals arrived on 70' and 89' minutes to secure a vital 2-0 win, and they proved to be clutch moments in City's first-ever Premier League title win. The best players deliver when it really matters, and Yaya did this time and time again.
🎯 Yaya's best goals for Man City
Touré's glittering career for the Ivory Coast, Barcelona and Man City proved that he was the complete midfield package. The most eye-catching moments of his playing years likely came in a Sky Blue shirt.
Yaya Touré, one of the finest footballers of his generation.