Yaya Toure has put an end to what had threatened to become one of the summer’s enduring transfer sagas by revealing he will stay at Manchester City next season.
“I will definitely stay. The fans don’t have to be worried” the Ivorian told the Manchester News.
“My target is to try to do everything possible to make this team improve well and I am sure with my experience, maybe I hope, with the players coming in a couple of weeks, a couple of months, definitely it is going to be a strong City next year.”
Toure’s statement is unlikely to be met with universal celebration, given his advancing years and frustratingly indifferent form at times during the second half of the campaign.
Yet his decision to stay is excellent news for the club as – quite apart from the fact that he is the kind of player with the rare ability to decide games on his own – it can prove the catalyst for an overhauling of the Sky Blues’ midfield.
During the Ivorian’s first title-winning campaign at the Etihad, he was paired with either Gareth Barry or Nigel de Jong in deep midfield, occasionally playing in front of the pair of them.
In employing him alongside a committed and astute destroyer, Roberto Mancini provided his best midfielder with an environment where he was insulated from the defensive concerns that have impinged more upon his attacking instincts since.
Two seasons into his Etihad career, Fernandinho has yet to conclusively prove why he was brought in at such great expense, while Barry and De Jong were allowed to leave the club.
Providing marginally more attacking guile, he offers much less defensive stringency than either of the departed twosome, yet is continually deployed alongside Toure in a two-man central midfield.
True, the Elephants hero was able to inspire his side to the 2013/14 alongside the Brazilian, yet that campaign looks like a weak season in hindsight, with Chelsea and Manchester United in transition and a defensively suspect Liverpool in the frame.
A year on they had no match for the reupholstered champions’ relentless point accumulation, for all they ended up a clear second best.
Now that the former Barcelona star has affirmed his commitment to the cause, City must set about recruiting the kind of disciplined and selfless foil he needs to flourish once again.