Man City to New York City? Lampard talks up MLS move for Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure could swap Manchester City for New York City this summer, according to Frank Lampard, with the Ivorian expected to receive offers from America, China and England.

After eight memorable years at the Etihad Stadium, the 34-year-old is set to drop into the free agent pool at the end of his current contract.

City have offered a loyal servant the perfect send-off by securing another Premier League title, but it remains to be seen what the future will hold.

Various options have been mooted for Toure, with former team-mate Lampard of the opinion that he could head for MLS or embrace another challenge in the English top-flight.

The former Man City and NYCFC midfielder told BBC Sport: “What next? Well, I am sure there will be interest from abroad, including China and the United States.

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“He has been linked with City’s sister club in the MLS, New York City, in the past – which, from my own experience there, is a move that would definitely work for him.

“The MLS is a physical league but, if his mind is on it, I would have no doubts he could play there for a year or two.

“Yaya will not be short of offers from Premier League clubs either, and he apparently would prefer to stay in England.

“He is a big lad and, when you are built like he is, you have to stay on top of things fitness-wise because otherwise the game is so quick, it gets difficult.

“But in terms of the quality he has, I think he is more than capable of extending his career here.”

Yaya Toure to MLS Frank Lampard

Lampard considers Toure to be of the “superstar” mould, with an iconic figure having delivered above and beyond what was expected when City made him one of their first high-profile additions.

The ex-England international added: “In his eight years at the club since arriving from Barcelona in 2010, he has played a huge part in City’s rise, initially by being one of the first signings they made of a really top player from a big club.

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“Along with David Silva and Sergio Aguero, who followed him to Manchester, he was bought to be one of City’s first superstars and he has lived up to that with the way he has performed down the years.

“Yaya was integral to their first two title wins in 2012 and 2014, particularly that second success when he scored so many goals, and was the dominant force in midfield in the Premier League all season.”

Along with three Premier League titles, Toure has also helped City to two League Cup triumphs and an FA Cup win during his time in England.

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Guardiola calls on record-breaking Man City to ‘win more’

Pep Guardiola has claimed that Premier League champions Manchester City have to prove their consistency over a number of seasons before comparing themselves to English football’s greatest sides.

City set three new Premier League records as they overcame Brighton 3-1 on Wednesday, with the champions having now netted more goals, won more games and accumulated more points than any other side in the history of the competition.

A victory over Southampton on the final day would move City to 100 points, but although Guardiola has been impressed by his side’s intensity in the closing stages of the season, he claimed it would be premature to label them the best club side in English football’s history.

“To be the best we have to win more. To be alongside United, Liverpool, we have to win more,” the former Barcelona boss told reporters.

“We’ve spoken about trying to write a new page. I cannot forget the ’80s with Liverpool dominating English football, ’90s Sir Alex Ferguson, we are so happy he is out of intensive care today. 

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“In terms of stats and numbers we were the best this season, we are so satisfied. A team will arrive and do better but they’ll have to do really well.

“We had that to maintain our level all the season, try to break the record, maintain our intensity, 97 points, a lot of goals and wins, that’s a consequence of the season we’ve done.

“Now it’s one more game, we’ll try for 100 points and finish this almost perfect season.”

Danilo’s goal in the 16th minute, created by Leroy Sane, looked to have set City on course for another runaway victory, only for Leonardo Ulloa to restore parity following Claudio Bravo’s calamity.

City soon had their record-breaking goal, however – Bernardo Silva smashing home their 104th effort of the league campaign, with Sane again the provider.

Sane claimed his hat-trick of assists midway through the second half by teeing up Fernandinho, with a goal for Yaya Toure on what was his final home appearance for City, all that was missing from another dominant display, and Brighton manager Chris Hughton was full of praise for the champions.

“Certainly in my time, they’re the best footballing side that I’ve seen,” Hughton said.

“They show pace, strength and they’re great athletes. The options that they have and the intensity of their game – they’re not only a side with great individual players, but they all work incredibly hard as well.”

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Manchester City 3 Brighton and Hove Albion 1: Champions break Premier League points record

Manchester City’s incredible season continued as Pep Guardiola’s side set a new Premier League points record with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Captained by Yaya Toure in his final home game as a City player, the champions made light work of Chirs Hughton’s side to move onto an unprecedented 97 points with their 31st league win of the season, surpassing Chelsea’s record from 2016-17.

It was not all plain sailing for City – Danilo’s 16th minute opener, superbly crafted by the exceptional Leroy Sane, was cancelled out by Leonardo Ulloa following Claudio Bravo’s error.

Bernardo Silva’s effort shortly after the half hour restored City’s lead, though, moving Guardiola’s side onto 104 goals in the process – yet another Premier League record.

More calamitous goalkeeping from Bravo threatened to set City back again early in the second half, but Fernandinho’s strike 18 minutes from time made sure of the win.

That set up the perfect chance to give Toure a fitting send-off – the veteran making way to a standing ovation as City moved one win away from claiming 100 points.

Toure was the architect of City’s first clear opportunity with a crisp pass out to the right where Silva and Fernandinho combined to tee up Ilkay Gundogan, whose goal-bound shot was blocked superbly by Shane Duffy.

City did not have to wait much longer to go ahead, Sane taking matters into his own hands with a surging run and precise pass into Danilo, who kept his composure to slot home.

The champions’ lead lasted just four minutes, however. Davy Propper easily got the better of an aimless Bravo to loft a cross into the centre, where Ulloa headed into an empty net.

Making his first league start of the season, Toure turned on the style with a clever cutback to Gabriel Jesus as City looked to restore their lead, only for the striker to slice wide.

Silva made no such mistake from City’s next chance, though, setting himself brilliantly from Sane’s cross before tucking a terrific finish into the bottom-right corner.

Bravo failed to cover himself in glory once more after the restart, spilling Jose Izquierdo’s cross-cum-shot into a dangerous area from where Brighton failed to take advantage.

City soon had their third, Sane making the most of dreadful defending to tee up Fernandinho, who duly swept home from the edge of the area.

Toure fluffed the chance to mark his final home appearance with a goal by lofting a tame effort straight to Mat Ryan, though it took little away from his final goodbye to the Etihad Stadium crowd in the 86th minute.

Danilo was denied a second by the woodwork, but the champions will finish the season in emphatic fashion if they move onto a century of points against Southampton on Sunday.

Key Opta stats:

– Manchester City equalled the all-time English top-flight record for most wins in a single campaign (31, Tottenham in 1960-61).
– City have won 97 points in 2017-18, the most by a Premier League team in a single season. Furthermore, their 97 points is only bettered in the English top flight by Liverpool’s haul of 98 in 1978-79 (adjusted to three points for a win).
– Leonardo Ulloa scored his first league goal for Brighton in 1467 days, last netting for the Seagulls against Nottingham Forest in May 2014.
– Leroy Sane has been directly involved in more league goals this season than any other German player in Europe’s big five divisions (10 goals, 15 assists).
– Yaya Toure started a Premier League game as captain for Manchester City for the first time since April 2016 (versus Stoke City).

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Yaya Toure one of my toughest midfield opponents, says Frank Lampard

Former Chelsea and Manchester City player Frank Lampard has ranked Yaya Toure as one of his toughest midfield opponents.

The Cote d’Ivoire international will play his final home game when City face Brighton and Hove Albion in Wednesday’s English Premier League clash.

The midfielder played an influential role for the Citizens, helping them to three Premier League titles, two League Cups, one FA Cup and Community Shield in his eight-year stay.

And the former England international has picked the playmaker alongside Steven Gerrard, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Paul Scholes as his five toughest midfield opponents.

“I would put Yaya Toure in the top five of the toughest midfield opponents I faced in my career, and at his peak he could change games on his own,” Lampard told BBC Sport.

“Steven Gerrard probably edges it as the best I have played against, for his consistency over the years, but Yaya is up there along with Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Paul Scholes – which shows how highly I rate him.

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“Every midfielder has different attributes but the best players are the ones you fear, and I certainly did that when I was up against Yaya.

“Even some of the very best play within themselves slightly, but he didn’t. He would hurt you by going forward and by scoring goals at the end of it, which is always a great trait that not many midfield players have.

“When I faced him, I knew he was very good on the ball and could pass it around me if he wanted to. He knew the moments to keep it simple and move the ball around.

“But if you got too close to him to try to stop him doing that, he also had that ability to drive through midfield and his physical power and pace – which was deceptive because of his big stride – made it so difficult to stay with him.

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“Either by making a one-two or just by facing me up and running straight past me, he would be gone.”

The former Monaco man has featured in 229 league games, scoring 59 goals.

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Remember the titan! Yaya Toure’s Manchester City legacy should never be forgotten

Yaya Toure may have had a strange, perhaps even ignominious, final season at Manchester City, but he will leave the club a hero, with his reputation arguably as high as it has ever been. That was not always a guarantee.

At the start of last season, he was as out-of-favour with some City supporters as he was with Pep Guardiola, yet while he has barely had a look-in for several months, his popularity with the fans and his team-mates has soared. 

Indeed, on Sunday, as City prepared to receive their Premier League trophy, Toure’s name was cheered as loudly as any other by the Etihad Stadium faithful.

Meanwhile, his team-mates were so focused on crowding around him and raining down playful slaps upon his head –  as they have done regularly in training these past few months – that the jubilant group backed up towards the trophy until they knocked it from the plinth, crown-first into the turf. 

It was, in a literal sense, a reminder that Toure has left his mark on the Premier League; a timely one, too.

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The public squabbles between Toure’s agent and various City figures during his eight-year stay in Manchester have, at times, genuinely threatened to undermine his legacy.

At the start of last season, as Dimitri Seluk and Guardiola argued via the media, many City fans started to wonder why Toure did not simply disown the Russian fixer. 

There had been issues before but this time they meant the Ivorian would, seemingly, never play for the club again; that he would spend the season in exile and leave on a free transfer. Surely, plenty pondered, this was as much Toure’s fault as anybody’s?

That the midfielder managed to fight his way back to become one of the most impressive and reliable performers of a difficult season spoke volumes for the mentality and, above all, commitment that many had started to doubt.

He had won back his place in Guardiola’s plans, and the hearts of City fans. His two-goal salvo on his shock return at Crystal Palace ranks among the most memorable contributions of his time in England. 

Yaya Toure Manchester City

That double came a day after senior club sources suggested that youngster Aleix Garcia would have more of a role in City’s campaign and, at that point, it was hard to know what was happening, or indeed who was responsible.

Guardiola had laid the blame for Toure’s exile at Seluk’s door but the fact is the Catalan had wanted the midfielder gone as soon as he arrived in Manchester. 

A season on, the picture remains similarly vague, especially with the public war of words ended by an unofficial amnesty (one which may soon be broken).

It is easy to forget now but back in August there were many observers – both fans and pundits – suggesting that Toure should play instead of Fernandinho, who took a little time to become as crucial to City as he is now.

By that time, however, those close to Guardiola had already let on that Toure’s efforts had become unsatisfactory, and had been so since the pre-season tour of the United States.

While fans wondered why he was struggling to get a game, there were already rumblings of another row, this time as a result of Toure’s lack of effort.

Of course, sources close to Toure have it different. They insist that while Guardiola has always said publicly that the midfielder “knows what he has to do” to get back into the team, he actually has no idea at all, and neither do his team-mates. 

Yaya Toure Manchester City

The remainder of the saga has, for the most part, been played out privately, but going by the evidence available to millions of people around the world – namely, Toure’s few performances this season – it is probably fair to say that at 34 years old, Toure, understandably, is now coming down the other side of the mountain.

Either way, as City celebrate their achievements, there is no longer the appetite to worry about who was right and who was wrong.

On Wednesday night, Toure will start his first league game of the season. Afterwards, he will be afforded an emotional send-off, the type Pablo Zabaleta was given a year ago. Having celebrated the title, City will now celebrate a titan. 

At the end of his farewell party, Zabaleta took to the microphone on the Etihad pitch to reminisce about his favourite moments with the club.

It will be a long, long night if Toure recalls all of his major contributions to the City cause since he signed for the club in 2010.

As much as Sergio Aguero’s last-gasp winner is rightly remembered as the most spectacular moment in City’s history, many argue that Toure’s FA Cup semi-final goal a year previously really laid the foundations for what the Blues have gone on to achieve.

His thumping strike against United at Wembley delivered the clearest message to the red half of the city that he and his team-mates had to be taken seriously.

Yaya Toure Manchester City

Of course, Toure scored the winner in the final, too, really kick-starting the new City era, and 12 months later, as Roberto Mancini’s men closed in on United, Toure’s goals at Newcastle ensured Aguero’s QPR moment was possible in the first place.

In fact, think of any of City’s recent successes and Toure’s fingerprints are all over them.

The logic-defying curler in the 2013-14 League Cup final against Sunderland, the rampaging strike against Aston Villa that same year as Manuel Pellegrini’s City this time bore down on Liverpool, a goal which summed up one of the most dominant individual campaigns on record.

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There are plenty of less in-your-face moments, too. His imposing physique has long betrayed a more subtle ability, a way of running games with astute passes and tidy feints that only really became strikingly obvious to non-City fans last season, when he sat deep and dictated games in Guardiola’s new system.

This season, he has not had as obvious a role in his club’s triumphs, but nobody could deny the part he has played in providing the platform for them, and whatever comes later.

These will be the moments that are cherished on Wednesday night, and for the years to come. This, and nothing else, will be Yaya Toure’s Manchester City legacy.

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