Where do we begin with Yaya Toure?
The dominating midfield play? The precise passes? The free kicks? His agent? His birthday?
If there's nothing else to say about Yaya Toure, one could surmise that he's possibly one of the most loved and skilled players to ever play in a City shirt, while at the same time, being one of the most emotionally exhausting footballers to cheer for. It's as if he knows that he can turn up at any moment, and just when the tide begins to turn in favor of the criticism, Yaya does something to remind everyone why City loves him so much. Over the previous summer, he suffered the death of a brother, and had a melodramatic episode over a birthday cake that one may or may not have heard of.
There were a few phases to Yaya Toure's 2014/15 campaign, as it was a tempestuous one for Yaya. We saw him go from August to November, a total of 15 matches, and score only twice. We then saw him implode in Moscow as he received a straight red for shoving a CSKA player, the same match where he scored a dazzling free kick. No one will ever know what goes on in his mind of course. But one could surmise that the adjustment period of playing with Fernando or Frank Lampard, who both spent some time as Toure's partner in the middle of the pitch had an effect. Or it could've been Vincent Kompany's mysteriously ill run of form and injurythat caused Yaya to not be as aggressive as we would've liked. He left supporters and critics looking for more, after all, everyone knew what he did in the prior season.
That was the pre-AFCON Yaya, the player that we always tend to peek behind our fingers. The player that will give you gold when you absolutely need it, but on days when you expect him to come good, he gives you tin foil. November and December is where it began to click for Toure, in addition to standout games against Southampton, Crystal Palace and Sunderland on New Years Day, he created five of the ten goals he would have for the season, the tide was turning up for Toure.
Entering the New Year, City saw themselves level across the board with newly budding rivals in Chelsea. However, The African Cup of Nations was calling, and a rough patch for club was also on the horizon. This was also around the time where former manager Roberto Mancini began playing up rumors that his current club Inter Milan would come calling for Toure. Yaya was also quoted as saying that the Manchester and English media needed to "show more respect" -- and while one cannot assume that all that was written about Toure was accurate, there were definitely times where Toure was absent from matches mentally. This was what City fans had been seeing out of Toure and his agent, Dmitri Selek for the last year and a half, a wavering, sort of "in the wind" pledge of allegiance to the club. Also, to be fair, Toure wasn't playing his best football, and at 32, it was not as if his best years of play were ahead of him. Rumors began to swirl about his future at the club once again, and also who would come in to replace him.
Toure and his Ivorian teammates went on to win AFCON this past season, he even managed to bring back a teammate with him in striker Wilfred Bony. Yaya's play during the winter tournament was impressive, and it seemed that, albiet if it was his last season with Manchester City, that at least City was getting back one of the worlds most effective midfielders when motivated.
As the season endured, Toure only missed two matches due to injury, but in rather pedestrian performances, he dissappeared in contests against Liverpool, Burnley, and Manchester United. To compare his match rating from WhoScored, Toure averaged 6.8 in the months of March and April, compared to his overall rating of 7.4. Against Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League Quarters (remember, he missed the first leg due to the straight red), Toure was as effective as you and I, it seemed as if his run with City was coming to an end. But, in May, Toure finished the year impressively with a brace against Swansea, and cool, calm and dominating play against Southampton. In the total English Premiere Campaign that saw City deposed as champions with an 8 point gap, Toure netted ten and assisted on two goals. It was a down year, but in comparison to players in the same position statistically, par for the course.
Immediately after the conclusion of the season, Toure and his agent confirmed that he would indeed be staying at City and wanted to remain an integral part of the club to help them obtain European silverware. Of course, the cynics say that it was because no one else can afford his wages, but we'll just give Yaya the benefit of the doubt for once.