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Yaya Toure Reveals Bizarre Arsenal Error, Hails Liverpool and Steven Gerrard

Manchester City's Yaya Toure celebrates after scoring against Manchester United during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2014

Arsene Wenger thought Yaya Toure was a striker during his 2003 trial with Arsenal, a memory the prolific midfielder looks back on with fondness.

Currently preparing for Sunday's crunch Premier League tie with Liverpool, the Ivorian revealed Wenger's odd admission during a lengthy interview with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp, posted by the Daily Mail:

I remember the first chat I had with Arsene Wenger. He asked me: ‘Yaya, which position do you want to play?’ I told him I wanted to be a midfielder. He said: ‘Why? When I saw you training, for me you look more like a striker.’ I said: ‘Ah, that’s why you keep playing me up front! Move me, I want to play in midfield like Patrick Vieira. I can play like Patrick and I can be better than Patrick.’ He said: ‘No, no. That’s impossible. No one is better than Patrick.’

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 06:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on April 6, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Yaya also took time to praise Liverpool's season, calling Brendan Rodgers' team "amazing" and picking Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge out for special commendation:

"Steven Gerrard is fantastic and has so much experience," said Toure. "And Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have been unbelievable. They score goals like a machine."

Speaking of experienced, goalscoring midfielders, Yaya hasn't done too badly himself this season. The City hero is currently Manuel Pellegrini's top scorer in the Premier League with 18 goals from 30 appearances, the next in line being Sergio Aguero with 15 from 17 matches, per WhoScored.com.

Yaya's danger from set-pieces was summed up perfectly by OptaJoe and WhoScored.com after he scored a recent penalty against Southampton:

Like the captain he admires at Liverpool, Yaya is the midfield engine that allows City to continue attacking with momentum. He is deceptively quick despite his behemoth build, can athletically dribble around opponents and is always looking to get into the box.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 05:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City scores the opening goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Southampton at Etihad Stadium on April 5, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Phot
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

As proven with his numerous long range strikes, he's also an expert finisher. Toure's comparisons to Patrick Vieira are more than suitable, but there's no denying the City star is better equipped to influence the scoreline than Arsenal's French legend ever was.

Like Vieira, Toure is the kind of player who is impossible to replace. He is a natural leader alongside Vincent Kompany at the Etihad and key to any City success, as he'll aim to prove during Sunday's showdown with Liverpool.

The upcoming match sees Yaya and Gerrard go head-to-head in a personal battle that could shape the destiny of this year's Premier League trophy. Although Yaya is more mobile than his older rival, Gerrard's distribution can take the former Barcelona player out of the game if the Englishman is afforded too much time on the ball.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City is closed down by Mathieu Flamini and Bacary Sagna of Arsenal  during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on December 14, 2013 in Manches
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Similarly, Yaya's driving runs can overwhelm Gerrard and Jordan Henderson, especially if Fernandinho occupies the opposition with his smart movement and positioning.

Yaya is sure to continue playing a major role at City across the coming years. Granted, the club possess substantial funds to improve the team whenever needed but nurturing a player of his quality is the real key to success.

City stand on the brink of their fourth trophy in three years. While Pellegrini hasn't resorted to deploying Yaya up front just yet, you can bet the midfielder's goalscoring output will make or break the Sky Blues' final Premier League position.

 

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