Yaya Toure is one of a rare breed: the box to box midfielder

For all Man City fans who got directed here from mancityfans.net, here’s another post (written same day comparing Toure to Scott Parker). Click here if you’re interested. Lots of Whitecaps fans looking forward to City coming here on July 18.

The classic holding midfielder, recently defined by the likes of Claude Makelele and Michael Essien through Sergio Busquets and a handful of others are critical to many teams success. Zinedine Zidane famously said that Makelele was perhaps the most important player on a Real Madrid team full of galacticos because of the work he put in to win the ball back and get it to players like him to work their magic.

I agree that the holding mid is an incredibly influential player these days but the ‘box to box’ midfielder, the one who can win the ball cleanly in the defensive third and still have the legs and lungs to get forward and be a critical part of the attack in the attacking third seems to be a dying breed. Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira were great examples of this type of player but until the weekend I’d have been hard pressed to think of a shining example of this sort of player.

And then Yaya Toure scored Manchester City’s third goal against Wolves. In case you didn’t see it, here’s a video chronicling one of the finer examples of what a box to box midfielder does and why Man City saw fit to drop £24 million on him to get him away from Barcelona and make him the highest paid player in the Premiership.

(WordPress seem to only allow embedding from YouTube and Dailymotion but this link is the best I can find for the goal.)

http://videa.hu/flvplayer.swf?v=fy2hHrt1FcYl0btN
szólj hozzá: Mc3-1Wo[matchhighlight.com]

Toure wins the ball at the top of his own box and clears well to Dzeko. From there, he is level with one Wolves player and soon leaves him in his dust. By the time Dzeko moves forward and plays a give-n-go with Tevez and plays a nicely weighted pass into Toure’s pass for a one touch finish in the Wolves box he has run about 75 yards past six more Wolves players. I don’t care what you think of City (and personally I’ve no time for clubs that become the playthings of distant billionaires), that is astonishing.

Yaya Toure never really fit into Barcelona’s midfield. They don’t need a box to box midfielder when they’ve got Xavi pulling strings, Iniesta linking with strikers and Messi and Villa scoring goals in their sleep while Busquets stays home and cleans up the occasional mess. Toure only averaged playing 25 La Liga games a season in the three years he was there.

Man City do need Yaya Toure. For all their spending they are still heavily reliant on Tevez for goals. No strike partner yet has shared that load and their midfielders seem incapable of finding the back of the net (which is probably why they dropped so much money on new striker Dzeko last month). No one except central defender Vincent Kompany has played more Premiership games this year for City and only Tevez (14) and Mario Balotelli (5) have scored more goals than Toure’s four.

That goal showed his value to the team and was one of the few examples (I’m sure Joey Barton would insist he’s just as good as Toure but Joey Barton’s an asshole who’s ran out of second chances years ago as far as I’m concerned). Yaya Toure is a blast from the past and Patrick Vieira must have been smiling, from the Man City bench, when he saw him do what Vieira himself used to do for Arsenal years back.

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5 Responses to Yaya Toure is one of a rare breed: the box to box midfielder

  1. Fred Cutler says:

    Scott Parker, Scott Parker, Scott Parker.
    OK, so I’m a suffering Hammers fan looking at the one bright light in the team.

    What’s rare is a box-to-box midfielder who shows quality at both ends and at both ends of the game. Some run so much that by the hour mark their passing quality declines markedly.

    • Gregor says:

      In fairness, that’s a good shout Fred. Scott Parker does tackle well and win the ball and he’s West Ham’s second leading scorer with four goals. And four goals for West Ham these days is a lot given they’ve only scored 22.

      Just had an idea. I’m going to update that post in a few minutes with some stats from the Guardian Chalkboards.

  2. K says:

    Schweinsteiger. Full stop. I have no facts to back-up this claim other than his masterclass in the last World Cup!

    • Gregor says:

      Another pretty good shout for a box to box midfielder. The stats for the World Cup show Schweinsteiger was one of Germany’s better attacking players (completed the most long passes, completed the highest % of his passes) and also had the most tackles of anyone on the team. No heatboxes on the FIFA site though to show where this all took place. My memory is that he had a bit of a free role to go forward on the left and a lot of the dirty work was done by Khedira who stayed a bit closer to home. Here’s the stats on the FIFA website:

      http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/southafrica2010/statistics/teams/team=43948/attacking.html

  3. K says:

    Yes Bastian was both creator, distributor and ballwinner. But Khedira was the “nitty gritty” to allow for Bastian’s more creative role.

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