Why Manchester City Cannot Afford to Let Yaya Toure Leave

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMarch 20, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester City fans will have fresh worries surfacing today due to Yaya Toure's agent's latest, troubling words.

The Ivorian has, once again, been one of the Citizens' best players this season and turns in consistently excellent performances when available.

But according to Sky Sports, representative Dimitri Seluk has admitted he will start actively seeking out a new club for his client if contract negotiations are not brought to a close by March 23.

If he signs a contract in the next three or four days, OK. If not, we will not wait any longer and will start negotiations with different clubs.

Today is Tuesday, so it means by Saturday. We will say "Thank you. OK, Yaya will leave in May."

The report suggests the two parties have been negotiating for as long as six months but still haven't found a solution, and that's playing on the mind of the player, who wants to secure his future.

But City need to do everything they possibly can to retain the services of Toure, because he's arguably one of the world's top 10 players.

Citizens fans got a sneak peak of life without Yaya when he went off to the Africa Cup of Nations 2013. Representing his native Ivory Coast, the muscular midfielder scored crucial goals to lead his side out of the group stage, but eventually fell to Nigeria.

City, meanwhile, managed to navigate January without conceding a single goal, but the wheels fell off shortly after. They lacked midfield thrust in a lame 0-0 draw at Queens Park Rangers, while they struggled to draw against Liverpool—a fixture they've become accustomed to dominating in recent years.

A tired Toure looked woeful in a disappointing loss to Southampton, but a resurgent one decided the game against Chelsea.

It's the type of explosive performance that downed the Blues 2-0 which Yaya puts in 95 percent of the time, and without him a lack of mobility in midfield hinders the team.

Sure, it always hurts to lose your best players, but Toure could be deemed maddeningly irreplaceable. Roberto Mancini has Javi Garcia, Gareth Barry, James Milner and Jack Rodwell to step in, but no one even comes close to the impact their prized Ivorian makes.

I recently graded Claudio Marchisio as the best box-to-box midfielder in world football (with Arturo Vidal a close second), but were Toure played in a truly box-to-box role, he would be taking the plaudits.

Look no further than his run at the Santiago Bernabeu this season that set up Edin Dzeko's goal—that power, pace and close control is not easily replicated. Toure was born with a highly coveted, powerful frame.

Toure's current contract runs until 2015 when the midfielder will be 32. People will ask whether he can continue in this bruising manner once he reaches that age, but this isn't an NFL running back we're talking about, and it isn't his only impressive attribute.

Like Didier Drogba, Toure is expected to retain his physical condition. He doesn't drink alcohol, and while we're not thinking Sir Stanley Matthews, he will continue in this vein for several more years.

When his body begins to grind down, he's still got a wonderful passing range, great height and a keen sense for tactics. He could be converted into a holding midfielder, a central defender or a deep-lying playmaker.

City fans will despise being held to ransom by an agent, but that's football. Yaya is a must-keep.