Henry, Messi & Drogba – Yaya Toure picks his ultimate XI & includes six forwards!

Yaya Toure opted for no fewer than five strikers in a seriously top-heavy formation as he selected his ultimate team-mate XI .

Comprising players from his time at Manchester City, Barcelona and with the Ivory Coast, Toure picked a side featuring an attacking sextet and just a single player shielding an exposed back three.

Lionel Messi features, unsurprisingly, in a role behind an advanced strike partnership of Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o.

Thierry Henry plays on the left wing, the position he began his career in as a youngster at Monaco and Juventus before former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger switched him to centre-forward.

Sergio Aguero also takes up a less that customary position alongside Messi in attacking midfield, with his City team-mate Leroy Sane outside of him taking up the right wing.

Andres Iniesta has the unenviable role of protecting the defence all on his own, whilst presumably chaos reigns in front of him, ahead of a three-man back line comprising City skipper Vincent Kompany, Spanish World Cup-winner Carlos Puyol and former Barcelona stopper Rafael Marquez.

In goal, Brazil and City ‘keeper Ederson takes up the role of both goalkeeper and sweeper behind a defence that would likely require serious cover.

Toure played alongside Marquez and Puyol during a trophy-laden spell at Barca under Pep Guardiola around the turn of the decade.

With Messi and Henry feeding off the deep midfield play of Spanish master Iniesta, Barca picked up the Champions League and two La Liga crowns during Toure’s stay.

It is a mark of the quality of that side that Toure himself was something of a squad player during the Camp Nou club’s most successful spell.

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football , studio guest Jamie Carragher said: “I would love to see you as a manager playing this formation.”

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In defence of his line-up Toure said: “I would want to keep my opponent far from my goal. And have guys who are focused and control the game.

“Now, football is about the team. Sometimes when you see a team playing against an opponent, you see the gap between the lines.”

Yaya XI


‘Pogba is not Kante’ – Toure believes midfielder is now being used correctly at Man Utd

Yaya Toure says Paul Pogba is benefitting from playing under a manager who appreciates his personality and plays him in the correct position.

Pogba has thrived under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since the Norwegian succeeded Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford in December.

Solskjaer became the first Red Devils manager to win his first six matches in charge in all competitions with victory at Tottenham on Sunday, with Pogba central to that revival in form.

The France international has scored four goals and contributed a further four assists in five Premier League matches under the former United striker.

That return stands in sharp contrast to the struggles he endured under Solskjaer’s predecessor Mourinho, who became embroiled in a number of public disagreements with the 25-year-old earlier this season.

By the time of Mourinho’s departure on December 18, Pogba had found himself out of the team having scored just once in 14 matches in all competitions

Former Manchester City midfielder Toure believes Solskjaer deserves credit for setting his team out in order to get the best out of the former Juventus star.

“To be honest, I think part of it is he has more belief in his manager and his manager put himself in the situation,” Toure told Sky Sports.

“He’s the boss; he has to push his teammates further. And he has the qualities to do that because I think when you see the World Cup in Russia, it was a big example.

“You caught some clips of him talking to his teammates in the dressing room. It was amazing. He was looking like a basketball player, trying to give a nice speech.

“He’s the type of player who wants to have that connection with his manager, being trusted by him and telling him to push. Feeling the love. I loved that. That’s good for United and that’s good for the fans because this kind of player always has to shine, they have to show their quality.

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“I think, to be honest, a player like me, I just want to give more, produce more and I like the challenge. Sometimes it is very, very difficult to be able to deliver at your best position at the best qualities. Because you can’t say to go back to be like N’Golo Kante. It’s impossible.

“But what he can deliver is – when you see him at Juventus in the past, you see a lot of quality. He can shoot from far, he can dribble, he can kick passes like you saw this weekend against Tottenham. It’s what the fans want and it’s what a club like this are paying him for.”

Manchester United are set to face Brighton on Saturday.


‘We’ll see what happens’ – Toure confirms Celtic interest

Yaya Toure has confirmed interest from Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic, though he says he must speak with Brendan Rodgers before any decision is made.

The midfielder completed an eight-year spell with Manchester City last summer, leaving the club at the end of the season.

Toure won three Premier League titles, three League Cups, an FA Cup and a Community Shield as a player on the blue side of Manchester.

His next stop was a short one, as Toure rejoined Olympiakos, the team he had spent the 2005-06 season with. Despite only signing in September, Toure’s contract was terminated three months later via mutual consent.

Reports have linked him with a move to Celtic, who are tied with Rangers atop the Scottish Premiership in points, where his brother Kolo is an assistant under Rodgers.

And speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Toure admitted there is interest from the Scottish club, but will require further discussions with the manager before any agreement is reached.

“Celtic are a great team, but I will speak to Brendan Rodgers there and we will see what happens,” Toure said.

Manchester City remain competitive on all fronts this season, and the quadruple, winning in the Premier League, Champions League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup, still remains a possibility.

Going hard in all four of the competitions could end up being a detriment for City as they not only aim to secure Champions League glory for the first time, but also overtake Liverpool in the Premier League.

But Toure believes Pep Guardiola is intent on not sacrificing any competition, and hopes to win them all.

“I think now the big question is if City are going to go for the Premier League or the Champions League or the League Cup or the FA Cup?” Toure said. “I don’t think so, I think he’s going to go for all of them.

“I think the Champions League is the big, big one. To be honest, the cups – the League Cup and the FA Cup – can become a distraction.

“Why? Because the Champions League and the Premier League is the big, big target for Man City.”

Asked about whether it was a different situation in Spain with the top clubs there compared to England, Toure said he thinks it is, noting how difficult the English top flight is.

“Yes, to be honest it is different,” Toure said. “Different, different, different type of football.

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“The Premier League is one of the top leagues in the world. In Spain, these teams – Real Madrid and Barcelona – have been recently winning Champions League but the Premier League is the competition. The physicality is so, so high.

“And I hope he will do it. It’ll be good for the fans and good for the football club.

“Let’s believe it. I know it’s not going to be easy but I hope City will try to do it.”


Toure not a priority for West Ham – Pellegrini

Yaya Toure is not a priority signing for Premier League club West Ham, Manuel Pellegrini has claimed.

Toure was linked with a move to several Premier League clubs in the close-season, but instead opted for a return to Greek giants Olympiacos.

However, the midfielder’s second spell in Athens was cut short on Tuesday, with Olympiacos agreeing to terminate his contract after Toure had made just five appearances for the club.

But although Pellegrini acknowledged he spoke to the former Manchester City star – who the Chilean managed during his time at the Etihad Stadium – at the start of the campaign, he does not believe the Hammers will be prioritising the signing of the free agent, despite Toure’s quality.

“I spoke with Yaya at the beginning of the season,” Pellegrini said when asked about the possibility of signing the ex-Barcelona man.

“Yaya is a great player, a top player that plays in every part of the role.

“I don’t know what happened with him in Greece.

“But in this moment we are just thinking about the next game that we are going to play and I don’t want to talk until the end of December about the window and which players that we need.

“At this moment, I cannot answer your question. It’s not a priority as in that position we already have players.”

Should Toure join, he could come in alongside Samir Nasri, another player who featured under Pellegrini at City.

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“Nasri is still working with us the whole month,” Pellegrini added.

“The same as I said with Yaya, we are just thinking about the games rather than changes that we are going to do in January.

“Of course he is working with us, he is doing well and we will decide in the correct moment.”


Yaya Toure aiming for Premier League return

Former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure says he is ready for a new challenge after leaving Olympiakos, with his agent claiming that he is focusing on sealing a return to the Premier League.

The Ivorian has departed the Greek Super League outfit just three months and five appearances.

And, having won three Premier League titles and the FA Cup during his time in England with City, his agent insists he is looking at the possibility of a return to England’s top flight.

“There are many proposals from Arab teams, but also from Asia. Huge offers. But most likely for Yaya is to return to the Premier League,” Dimitri Seluk said, as quoted by Gazzetta in Greece.

“His dream was to fight there and make it happen. He wants to come back there and I think there are conditions for it to happen again.”

Toure had earlier released a statement via Facebook thanking Olympiakos fans for their support, insisting it was time for a new challenge.

He wrote: “I came back for you. I had a vision and wanted to win trophies for you.

“Sadly, it has not worked out but I move on with love in my heart for you all. You have always encouraged me and stood by me.

“But now it is time for a new challenge. My love for football still burns strong.”

Olympiakos confirmed on Tuesday Toure’s contract had been terminated by mutual agreement.

The 35-year-old, who was released by City after playing a limited role last season, was in his second spell with the Greek club after playing for them in 2005-06 and winning a domestic double.

Sky Sports reports he has turned down offers from the Chinese Super League and MLS in the hope of securing a last hurrah in the Premier League.

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Toure joined City in 2010 and scored 59 goals in 230 games for the Blues.

Before his spell with the current Premier League champions he won two La Liga titles and the Champions League at Barcelona.