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Toure in better times

Happy Friday to you. 13th a number lucky to some and not so much to others. We find today a story on a young centre back at Arsenal who might be going out on loan to a Championship club. Ignasi Miquel is supposedly on the radar of Brighton who are riding on the wave of their success in recent seasons.

Gus Poyet may have played for a wrong club during his playing career but there’s no doubting the wealth of experience that the Uruguayan have. If Miquel do go there and gets game time, the Spaniard could only improve. The rough and tumble of the Championship would be a good learning experience for him and hopefully he comes back a better player.

From one central defender to another, this time a former Arsenal player. There are rumours circulating that Manchester City are ready to offload Kolo Toure to Turkey and Bursaspor in particular. City are making room in their squad and also trying to balance the books in preparation for FFP (as illogical as that may sound), is what this transfer seem to sound. Toure is on high wages (comparatively to what we pay at our club) and that should relax some numbers in their financial books.

Other than that, it would be hard to explain letting Toure go. Stefan Savic, who is likely to benefit from his departure is hardly a name to rely your hopes on. Especially not when City is trying to make headways in Europe and retain their Premier League crown. Cumbersome is the best word to describe the former Partizan Belgrade player. Toure at 31 years old still has plenty to offer and his nous picked up by winning trophies at Arsenal and City could still be useful to them.

Should Toure really go off to Turkey, that’s going to make me a little sad. I’ll admit that I still like him, even though he moved to another club in the Premiership. There’s a certain humility and class about him. This despite his latest quotes on how he would like to see Robin van Persie at City or his flirtation with his wife’s medical products. A players who takes nothing away from field and 100% is the minimum effort you expect each time.

He had a wonderful career at Arsenal too. Part of the Invincibles and part of the group that holds the longest record for longest number of minutes without conceding in the Champions League. Signed from ASEC Mimosas for just £150,000 but sold to City for £16 million represents somewhat of a good deal for us. A very good return for what is an astute piece of scouting and investment. No doubt, Arsene Wenger played a huge role in making the signing happen.

Toure started out as the utility man when he first joined us in 2002/03 season. Right midfield, left midfield and full back. He was already a full Ivory Coast international before he joined us. In total, he scored 14 goals and provided 12 assist during his time with us. His formative years in various positions held him in good stead in advance positions. I remember his goal when we demolished Leeds at Elland Road but the one that stand out was his goal at Highbury against Villareal that got us to our first Champions League final. Momentous occasion.

Toure would be best remembered as our centre back. A conversion which bewildered many at that time but turned out to be a masterstroke. It wasn’t all plain sailing. It looked odd at first when he started playing at the back but one match in particular, I knew he would be a star in that position. Funnily enough, it was a 3-0 reverse to Inter Milan at home. The team played badly but Toure used his considerable pace and power to prevent the score from becoming worse. He grew from that game onwards, which is not hard to do when he had Jens Lehmann, Lauren Campbell and Ashley Cole next to him.

Toure is an effervescent character to have around. Too bad, his squabble with William Gallas was what ultimately forced him out of the club. Had he stayed, who could say that Yaya Toure would not have opted to join us instead, after his Barcelona sojourn. The older Toure turned out to be a leader in a young-ish Arsenal side as well, frequently substituting for absent captains. The modern day type of centre back, full of athleticism and the ability to bring the ball out of defence.

I know this sounds like a little late. After all, he did move away from Arsenal a couple of seasons back. But I knew then that it wasn’t a complete farewell as I’m sure I will still be able to see him in action, albeit for a different club. I’m not going to lie to you, Turkish football would not be my selected choice of football matches to watch. Hence, if he goes, I might actually not see him play football again. I’m going to miss that.

A wonderful servant to football clubs.

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