The 32-year-old Ivorian was sold by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to Manchester City in 2009 for a hefty fee of £16 million after seven years spent with the Gunners.
I discussed recently what an astute signing Toure would be for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool – despite his advancing years, his experience at the highest level makes him a quality addition to the squad and the dressing room. He is exactly the kind of player Rodgers needed to replace the retired Jamie Carragher.
I also wondered whether Arsenal had considered bringing him back to the Emirates – whilst the club has moved on since his departure, Toure was part of the team the last time Arsenal won a trophy. He played for the duration (120 minutes) of the 2005 FA Cup final against Manchester United that the Gunners eventually won on penalties.
Toure also played 90 minutes of Arsenal’s devastating 2006 defeat in the Champions League final against Barcelona. Whilst that ultimately ended in tears, he was a key player in getting them to the final that year – a solid, intelligent and quality centre-back to partner Gunners legend Sol Campbell.
Arsene Wenger currently already has three top quality centre-backs in captain Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker but the club have released Sebastien Squilacci and have sent Johan Djourou out on another loan spell which looks likely to become permanent eventually.
Toure could easily have filled the void left by Squilacci and would in every sense have represented an improvement on the French flop. Arsenal are reportedly in the market for another top quality centre-back along the lines of Ashley Williams, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Toby Alderweireld, or Mamadou Sakho but even if they bring a player like that in, they’ll still require one more for cover.
Why Wenger wasn’t trying to bring Toure back is beyond me – it would have been a real ‘up yours’ to City as well to get him back for nothing after selling him for such a big fee.
Furthermore, Toure could have been that link of continuity between Arsenal’s past and their present – even though he left, there was never the kind of betrayal factor and subsequent animosity of a transfer like Samir Nasri.
Toure was part of the ‘Invincibles’ team circa 2003/04 and not one of that starting XI remains at the club. It would have, if nothing else, been a reminder of the club’s history to have him around.
image: © Alfonso Jimenez