After leaving him out in the cold for months, seemingly without a hope of wearing a Manchester City shirt again, Pep Guardiola surprised everyone by reinstating Yaya Toure to the starting XI against Crystal Palace.
The Ivorian was back with a bang as well, as he bagged two goals in the 2-1 victory. Is the City legend back just in time to help his side storm towards a third Premier League title?
Since joining City in 2010, Toure has made his mark on England’s top flight and is generally considered one of the deadliest midfielders the league has ever seen.
His powerful, barnstorming runs from central midfield have seen him smash through opposition defences and have helped him rack up 59 goals for the club in 196 appearances.
City supporters will always hold Toure firmly in their hearts after his incredible season in 2013-14, when he scored 20 goals and made 9 assists while acting as the driving force behind the Citizens’ title-winning campaign.
Some publications have even argued that the former Barcelona man is the best player ever to wear a City shirt.
The 33-year-old has failed to reach the dizzying heights of that title-winning campaign again in terms of output, but now Toure has been reinstated into Guardiola’s squad he could be about to stage a comeback. Click here for the latest odds, but at the time of writing, City are 2/1 to win the league this season in what is becoming a tighter race than many had expected. Toure’s experience could be key in pushing this City squad ahead of the chasing pack.
Those who are eagerly anticipating seeing more of Toure’s rocket-like shots on goal (see video above) this season may end up being disappointed.
Due to the Sky Blues’ woeful defending that has seen them only keep two clean sheets after 12 games, and the fact that Vincent Kompany is injured again, the four-time African Player of the Year may be pushed back into central defence to partner with John Stones.
Guardiola has utilised Toure in defence before at Barcelona and has been known in the past to recast midfielders in the back-line. Because the Catalan desires a free-flowing possession-based game, having ball players like Toure at the back to start the attacks could be beneficial.
The former Barcelona boss hasn’t shown much faith in Nicolas Otamendi, and with Vincent Kompany laid off again his options at the rear are limited.
In his twilight years could Toure end up reinventing himself as a goal scoring defender and thus add to his status as an all-time Premier League hero? Guardiola is sure to give him the licence to roam when possible, and he could also chip in with a few goals from set plays.
Just when we thought one of the best midfielders of England’s top flight may be shipped off to live out his playing days in China, he has returned with a bang.
Hopefully, now he will get the playing time he deserves and continue to be a joy to watch.