The Ivorian was left in the shadows following Pep Guardiola’s arrival but he seems to have done enough to fit his way back into the side. Yaya Toure was involved in a lengthy stand off with the former Barcelona manager after his agent made negative comments about Guardiola and refused to deliver an apology. Toure had been outcasted because he wasn’t showing enough effort and determination in training and it wasn’t until mid-November when he returned to the frame, making a shock appearance in the starting XI against Crystal Palace. He marked his return in emphatic style, scoring two goals in the 2-1 win and looked back to his old, dominating self.
During the 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons, Toure was one of City’s key players and was a catalyst for their rise to success. Alongside Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva, Toure was vital to everything positive at the club and often the team thrived on his influence in games. Should Toure have an off day, it usually coincided with a bad day for his team because everyone seemed to flow through him. He is a powerful dribbler and in his prime, was one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the league so it’s hard to see how far he had fallen at the start of the 2016-17 season. He looked certain to be leaving in January but the midfielder has turned things around and recent weeks suggest he could still be considered an important member of Manchester City’s squad.
The 33-year-old retained his place in the starting line-up following his two-goal thriller against Palace and has since gone on to record three successive appearances for the club. He didn’t start against Chelsea but that was no surprise given Ilkay Gundogan’s return to the frame and the need to line-up with more defensive stability. The league leaders were in sensational form, conceding once and winning seven straight games in a row. However, Pep Guardiola turned to Toure as a second half substitute in an attempt to change the game, just moments after his side went down 2-1 through a swift Chelsea counter-attacking move. This alone signified the influence he could still yet have on City’s title hopes and instead of a number of attacking options, Guardiola turned to Toure as his first choice to come on and change the direction of the game.
His arrival failed to spark a comeback from City but immediately you can see a difference in his performances. He’s no longer the marauding midfielder, galloping forward at will, with no regard for positioning, and he has become a much more balanced, disciplined midfielder. He can still provide a threat going forward and his presence can still be felt in midfield but he works hard for his side too and has realised he doesn’t have the legs to perform the box-to-box performances of old.
With European competition and a Premier League title chase still very much on the cards, Toure could prove to be a valuable squad member for Guardiola and it will be no surprise to see him feature more regularly this season.