The Ivorian powerhouse endured a largely frustrating campaign last season as City finished a distant second to eventual champions Chelsea, and widespread and continuous reports linked the ex-Barcelona man with a move to Inter Milan over the summer.
However, Toure, who was signed from Barca for a big-money fee back in 2010, has returned to a level of form similar to his swashbuckling displays that helped City to the title in the 2013-2014 campaign, and Manuel Pellegrini’s men are currently top of the Premier League with 25 points from their opening 11 games.
Toure is once again in line to win the African Player of the Year award after appearing on a 10-man shortlist on Monday, and another CAF gong would be the 32-year-old’s fifth consecutive win.
Some City fans were frustrated with Toure’s lethargic performances in a two-man midfield at times last term, with calls for the versatile African to be moved forward into a No.10 role, but Lampard feels that the Citizens feel the full benefit of his former teammate’s ability when he is allowed to run from deep.
Lampard said to Sky Sports: “I understand the thought process behind [Toure playing further forward] because I know Pellegrini likes the 4-4-2 and they’ve been exposed defensively when he hasn’t got a huge responsibility, but I played with him there and I never liked playing against him because he used to get the ball so much and play around the half-way line.
“I knew he could pass the ball around me and I didn’t want to get too close because I knew he could run past me. He gets the ball in those positions and he makes them tick. You see him make these runs from deep and he’s so confident on the ball. He’s never rash and I think a lot of the team play off.
“He’s a big player and everyone knows that. I think he just likes to run from deep and you’ve also got to put into the picture that City have David Silva. I think City have more energy this season in the wings and I think you get the best out of him in the deeper role.
“He likes to get on the ball, he likes to make things happen and I think he prefers to make the runs from deep. I hate catering for players, but he is so big for City. This year, we’re seeing someone who is a little more on it.”
City return to action on Tuesday when they travel to Sevilla in the Champions League, before domestic action resumes with a trip to Aston Villa on November 8.