So it’s au revoir Yaya Touré, then.
It’s hardly a surprise. These days, the Ivorian looks as out of place at Man City as a Nokia 3210 in a feature display at the Silicon Valley Apple Store. His time has come and gone.
In truth, this has been clear for quite some time now. The moment Pep Guardiola arrived in Manchester, you got the feeling he wouldn’t see much of a place for this cumbersome relic of the Mancini years.
Partly because Pep had already shown Yaya the exit six years before, having tried unsuccessfully to turn him into a centre-back at Barcelona. But mainly because it’s impossible to slot a player like Touré into a side consciously built around ethereal, flitting dribble-pixies like Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva, or Amazon-style delivery-bots like Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan.
Whatever Yaya Touré may be, he’s never been a metronomic distributor – hence why Pep preferred to pick Sergio Busquets ahead of him at the Nou Camp – and he’s certainly no dribble-pixie. Which means he’s not, and never will be, what Pep Guardiola looks for in a midfielder.
In his pomp, Yaya was a rampager supreme, a thundering, terrifying brick of a man who could alter the nature of a game with a pounding charge through the heart of a defence. When he wasn’t battering through crowds of opponents, he was banging in thirty-yard screamers, the ball struck with a power that would make Thor’s hammer look like a Fisher Price mallet in the hands of a sickly infant.
Yaya didn’t so much dominate those who stood in his way – he barely even noticed they were there, and simply rolled over them en route to somewhere else. He wasn’t without subtlety, but he preferred not to have to resort to it. And he rarely had to.
Until, that is, football’s throbbiest Catalan tactics-brain floated through the (presumably) bejewelled entrance at the Etihad and settled into a clear, fluid-filled Mason jar in the manager’s office. At which point Yaya was pretty much rendered obsolete as a Citizen, the tactics-brain preferring to deploy its army of miniature tiki-takautomatons in midfield rather than trust the slightly archaic Touré.
And so the Age of Touré drew to a close, his career simply petering out rather feebly under Guardiola. The humiliation of being left out of City’s Champions League squad in 2016/17 was succeeded by eighteen months of quiet, polite marginalisation.
Slowly, Yaya was ushered out of sight, like an aging uncle gradually asked to spend more and more time at the care home so everyone else can just get on with their lives. It was a sad end to what had been a genuinely glittering spell in a sky-blue jersey, but there’s no escaping the reality that City have improved drastically over the past year or so, making Touré rather conspicuous by his absence.
Guardiola never wanted him, and City no longer need him. Which means that, now, he’s out. So it goes in football.
Where he ends up from here will be interesting to see, but you’d imagine whoever takes a punt on this aging colossus wont be left disappointed with what he has to offer.