I'm a fanatic of this game and constantly looking for explanations, like a professor who wants to constantly complete his knowledge. For me, football is primarily a science - if you do not understand it, you cannot reach the highest level. It's like physicists who try to crack a scientific code. I'm trying to break all the mysteries of football, that's what keeps me going.
Manchester City's Yaya Touré is the envy of every other Premier League club. There isn't another midfielder in the league who possesses the same mix of power, pace, defensive quality and attacking capability. Signed for £24 million from Barcelona in 2010 (via BBC Sport), Touré has been a key man for City ever since his arrival.
An incredibly versatile player who gives City options, he can play an out-and-out defensive role, much like he did at Barcelona, or he can be given licence to attack. He is equally capable operating in either role, and at City this season has played an amalgamation of the two.
At Barcelona, he was exclusively a defensive midfielder, the anchor that shielded the defence and allowed their creative players to express themselves. "They did not need me to go forward. My job was just to hold the midfield; to take the ball from one player and give it to another," he told FourFourTwo.
It was a job he carried out superbly, but one which was limited given his capabilities. At City, his remit has been expanded, and he has developed into one the most unique midfield talents playing in Europe.
This season, he has formed a superb partnership with Fernandinho in City's two-man midfield. After some initial teething problems, they have struck a superb understanding, with Fernandinho the one more likely to sit and break up the play, allowing Touré to join the attacking players.
As the diagram below shows, City have employed a 4-2-2-2 system for much of the season. It's an attacking formation requiring discipline from the the two central midfielders, who can be left exposed when the wide players are high up the pitch in support of the strikers.
The outstanding form of Fernandinho has been key to Touré's brilliance so far this season. Fernandinho has been superb for much of this campaign, offering excellent protection to the back four. He is consistently in the right place at the right time, and his energy levels mean he makes tackles and interceptions all over the pitch.
That has allowed Touré to increase his performance, as demonstrated by the stats below. He has scored seven league goals in 14 appearances, and has managed an incredible 92 percent passing accuracy level. He barely ever gives the ball away, and is adding more goals to his already accomplished game.
Passing, Chances & Goals:
2012/13 – 90% pass accuracy, avg length 17m, 22 chances created, 2 goals and 2 assists. 63.5% of his passes are forwards.
2013/14 – 92% pass accuracy, avg length 17m, 17 chances created, 7 goals and 3 assists. 65.3% are forwards.
As these stats show, Touré is more clinical when in possession and is making better use of the ball this season compared to last.
2012/13: 40% shot accuracy, 25 shots at a 8% chance conversion rate.
2013/14: 65% accuracy from 15 shots at a 41.2% chance conversion rate
His shooting accuracy and and conversion rates are also up considerably on last season.
His powerful bursts from midfield are an incredible facet to his game, and gives City an edge that few other sides can match. Touré moves through the gears at pace, with his close control and sheer strength meaning he can beat players and take City up the pitch within seconds. This season, he has a 70 percent take on rate.
Touré has already had many special moments in a Blue shirt. His winning goals in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final and final as City won their first major trophy in 35 years, and his double away at Newcastle the following year which put City on the brink of their first title win in 44 years were hugely important moments in the club's recent history. His form this season suggests he wants to be involved in many more—he's the man for the big occasion.
Pep Guardiola said recently: "everything is decided in midfield. If you want to win the game, you need to control the midfield," (via ESPN). If that's true, City have a player capable of dominating the majority of midfield battles he finds himself in. Yaya Touré is the complete midfield package.
All statistics provided by Squawka
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013/14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.