Arsenal were interested in Yaya Toure according to his agent. While the reports are quite far-fetched, any deal would not have worked for the Gunners anyway.
When purchasing new players, one understated aspect that is often not considered by fans and the media alike is the effect that the addition will have on the current squad, whether that be the position they play in and how that may change for others already at the club or in the dressing room. For Arsenal and Yaya Toure, both apply.
The report stating that Arsene Wenger was interested in signing Toure this summer surfaced in the past 24 hours, with his agent stating, that while a move would be impossible due to – at least this seems to be the most likely reason – the rivalry between Manchester City and Arsenal, both the North London club and the red half of Manchester made enquiries as to the availability of their once star midfielder.
It is interesting to note that both clubs were sounding out the possibility of reinforcing their midfield options through the addition of the giant Ivorian, especially considering both had undertaken significant outlay in improving their central midfield areas, with United signing Paul Pogba for a world record fee and Arsenal investing £35 million – a sum of money that is very rarely seen at the Emirates – in Granit Xhaka early in the transfer window.
It is this prior investment that makes the agent’s statement so unbelievable. Where would Yaya Toure fit in this current Arsenal side? As his legs deteriorate due to age and an increasing lack of work rate, his best position is in a more advanced central role. Well, with Mesut Ozil marshalling that position to great effect, Toure would simply be a wasted investment. He could not handle the running in a deeper, box-to-box position and simply does not have the defensive mindset to adapt to a holding role. Consequently, he simply doesn’t fit.
It is not just his role on the pitch that is limited. In the dressing room, Wenger is notoriously concerned with what type of players he brings into the club, in full knowledge that he does not want to upset the apple cart. Toure, on the other hand, is a difficult character to handle. He is a big name, brash and flashy. This is a man who got upset because of an absent birthday cake for goodness sake!
While character is not a valid reason to simply reject signing a player unless in extreme circumstances and these are not, combined with the confusion in his role in North London, and it becomes rather clear that a move for Toure would never have worked out, for either party.
Whether the agent is simply trying to stir up rumour and discussion regarding one of his most prized possessions to raise his wages come January is unknown, but Wenger has been close to signing the former Barcelona man before. That was an opportunity missed. This was a nightmare escaped from.