With Yaya Toure soon reaching the age of 31, with it more regular injuries and fatigue, a midfielder should be on the cards. Yaya Toure has been the heart-beat of this modern City side, offering a unique and explosive attacking dimension from midfield. City have often looked to the Ivorian in desperate times and considering Yaya will only be at his best for so long, a successor should be one of the priorities this summer.
While a player of Yaya’s calibre can never truly be replaced, I identify three players who I feel are capable of one day taking over Yaya Toure’s reins.
The former Manchester United man is one of the most sought after players in Europe after Juventus admitted they wouldn’t be able to resist a big offer back in January. With Serie A still in resurgence, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 21 year-old leave after only two years to test himself in a stronger league.
Since leaving Manchester United after contractual problems in 2012, Pogba has exploded onto the European scene in his debut season with Juventus. Under Juventus coach Antonio Conte’s guidance, Paul has emerged as one of the most gifted young midfielders in the world, a player capable of the outrageous like Yaya. His technique and skill-set are remarkable for a player of his age, excelling in all departments needed to become a world class midfielder. Pogba has also shown an incredible ability to adapt at Juventus, playing a anywhere in midfield with terrifying ease. Conte has deployed him in a number of roles with roaring success: box-to-box, behind the strikers and in the notorious ‘Pirlo role’.
While arguably the player with the most potential on this list, the Frenchman will definitely be the most expensive with massive figures being quoted. What makes the situation worse is that his agent is the notorious Mino Raiola – the super agent. While Raiola was originally keen on selling him to PSG, it now seems to want him to stay. Either way Manchester City know they will have to cough up top dollar for the Frenchman.
Patrick Vieira spoke of his disappointment in the club for trying for Pogba when he left Manchester and the higher-ups at City will no doubt be kicking himself at the prospect of paying up to £40m for Paul. While the cost may be substantial, the investment could be worth it. There are few players in Yaya Toure’s mould capable of reaching his towering heights and if City wish to continue playing in that style, then Pogba is certainly their man.
The 24 year-old German was a key figure in Jupp Heynckes all-conquering Bayer Munich side last season for only to sadly tear his groin months before the season ended. Toni is arguably the most versatile player on this list, one that could play a number of roles in any of the fluid formations Pellegrini has used in his career. He is an excellent long-distance shooter and passer with a real engine about him. Tactically he is incredible, the epitome of a modern day play-maker, always dropping into the correct positions and pressing with a relentless work rate.
The creative German has played plenty this season with Schweinsteiger and Thiago Alcantara being out for extended periods yet found himself side-lined since their return. While not being one to doubt the genius of Guardiola, some fans have still questioned Kroos’ role in this Bayern team. As you are probably aware, Bayern possess an absolutely ridiculous set of midfielders and with Guardiola frustratingly trying to find his best Bayern team, rumours have circulated as to which midfielder will be sold this summer. Kroos doesn’t appear to have the trust that Thiago and Lahm have and has apparently rejected yet another contract offer, nearly a year after admitting he could leave when it expires. As you will probably know from his time at Barcelona, Pep certainly doesn’t take the p*ss when it comes to transfers and will happily shed out any player he deems not applicable.
Toni is also the stand-out player on this list since he is the least similar to Yaya. The German would represent a change in style should City look to acquire him, a quality option if that is the case. Kroos would be extremely difficult to lure away even though Bayern will probably need to sell a midfielder or two. Guardiola labelled him “important” after the rumoured bid from Manchester United in Janaury, yet admitted that in football “one day you could be here, one day you could be there”. So if there’s the slightest chance that Toni is available than Txiki and Soriano should do absolutely everything in their power to bring him to Manchester.
The Portuguese giant is hot property in Europe after guiding his Sporting Lisbon side to an unlikely title challenge. Lisbon’s talismanic midfielder has enjoyed somewhat of breakthrough season after a series of excellent performances in his home country drew huge European interest. William, another player on this list heavily affiliated with United, has drawn impressive interest with scouts from Europe’s biggest clubs flocking to enjoy his dominating performances in midfield. The always reliable Gianluca Di Marzio suggested that City were in for the 22 year old only last month and you can see why City’s higher ups are interested.
Without lazily comparing him to Yaya Toure, Carvalho does have a lot similarities. He has exceptional ball control and dribbling qualities, especially for someone of that physique and size. While his attacking contribution maybe understandably lacking, he is a very good passer of the ball, striking it effortlessly in a way eerily similar to Yaya. He is also the holder of the quite ridiculous record of having won 9 of Portugal’s 16 possible Player or Young Player of the Month awards this season.
Carvalho seems the most likely transfer at the moment since he is the better suited to be the defensive partner in our midfield. While Pogba and Kroos are comfortable deeper in midfield, Carvalho excels there as it is his favoured position. Although William plays there regularly, he can play slightly further ahead too. Like Yaya Toure, he is expected to slowly mould himself into a box-to-box midfielder in the future.
Sporting President Bruno de Carvalho admitted recently that his club could do nothing if a club paid his rumoured £37m fee. Purchasing Carvalho would mark a brave move by the City elite since Carvalho’s little top level experience has been in a somewhat weak league. Then again, City are no strangers to brave moves after shelling out £30m for Fernandinho last season.
written by Anis Bazza