Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Yaya the One Who Slipped through Wenger's Grasp

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Yaya the One Who Slipped through Wenger's Grasp

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley

[bar] AYA TOURE has come to epitomise the largesse that underwrites Manchester City's Premier League title bid but Arsene Wenger today reflected on the lost opportunity to develop the midfielder in Arsenal's image.

The Gunners were not in a position to compete with the jaw-dropping deal that took the 28-year-old to the Etihad Stadium last July, with Barcelona compensated by [pounds sterling]24million and the player receiving a staggering [pounds sterling]200,000-aweek in wages.

The Ivory Coast international's development into one of the game's finest holding midfielders took a circuitous path and one that could have been very different.

Wenger was denied the chance to develop Toure as a teenager because of the stipulation that players from outside the European Union must have played in at least 75 per cent of their country's matches over the previous two years to qualify for a work permit.

An agreement was in place after Toure had a trial at Arsenal in a preseason friendly against Barnet on July 19, 2003.

The game ended goalless with Toure playing as a second striker. He missed a decent second-half chance and it appeared Wenger's decision was not based solely on that uninspiring outing.

"He was completely average on the day," said Wenger. "He is a top-class player. We knew that at the time he would be a top-class player. The only problem with Yaya Toure was to fix him into a position because he can play everywhere. He can play centre-back, as a second striker, as a midfielder and for a long time we didn't know where to play him.

"I have known him since he was 15. We had an agreement with him to come here but the problem was that he was at Beveren and we had to wait long enough for a European passport.

"He was impatient and went, at the time, to Metalurh Donetsk. …

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