Yaya Toure emerging as a genuine candidate for the next FIFA footballer of the year award

May 10, 2014 1:01 am0 comments by:

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure plays for his national team, The Elephants of Ivory Coast as a central midfield and at a club level for English Manchester City. I am sure that if this article was about Messi or Ronaldo, then will not have started the article with explaining the player profile. I thought it was necessary as it is possible for a reader of this article, not aware of this gifted African player. Yaya is leaving huge worldwide footsteps behind him that is difficult to ignore for the next FIFA  World footballer of the year award. This weekend, Manchester City need just a draw against West Ham to secure second league title in 3 years.

Previously, Manchester City had not won a silverware in 50 years and were not regarded as a rival by their neighbours Manchester United. This view has changed quickly since the takeover of the club in 2008. The takeover resulted in big signings to improve the squad. Yaya Toure was among the first batch of star players brought to the club Manchester City.
He was brought in for his defensive quality and not for offensive impact. However, gradually has  burst as an attacking player with ability to score a lot of goals for club and country to everyone’s surprise. It is remarkable considering that his tally of 24 goals this season comes from the central role. The squad has 4 top international forward strikers. He has shown a consistent level of passing ability, physically power and wonderful technique with free kicks.
It is a far cry from his early professional years as midfield in Belgium, Greece, and France then to Spain for Barcelona. At Barcelona, he had 74 appearances and played occasionally as defender in high profile matches. It is no surprise scored only 4 goals, prior to that in Monaco 27 appearances and scored 6 goals.
At Manchester City, he plays as a box to box midfielder and sometimes behind a lone striker. This is a mark of his improvement as all round player. In addition, has a good disciplinary record with few red cards picked in his career. Therefore, it is disappointing that his contributions in the past 12 to 24 months was overlooked at recent FIFAPro Team of year. The team is always dominated by the same players regardless of form, improvement or team impact. For instance, 2013 team of year had Xavi, Iniesta and Ribery in the midfield role. Whilst, these 3 are talented players with international experience. Their recent record suggests deep in form and fitness.
The media coverage has not reflected accurately the current form. I am aware that Yaya plays in the same era as Messi and Ronaldo who have graced us with  above average technical and physical skill set. This has been mainly at club level but other well-known players in the FIFAPro Team of year like Xavi and Iniesta have  worse club and national record in 2013.Whilst Yaya is showing big improvement with the club and country. In 2012 he made 10 appearances for country  and scored only one goal. In 2013 made 11 appearances and scored 6 goals plus the 24 goals at club level. This is in comparison to Xavi‘s 2013 11 national appearance and 1 goal. Iniesta made 17 appearances and scored none.
In my view, the FIFAPro Team of year vote  is a subjective view and less of an objective analysis. It has become a popularity contest and the media playing a major part in swaying fans views. FIFA should figure out a solution to acknowledge and note recent changes in performance or impact.
I am aware that recent comments about Yaya losing out because of his African origin. It is a reason but difficult to back this argument with facts. In my view the problem lies in his position as a midfielder. In the last 20 years, FIFA Football of year has gone to a striker or forward player. Fabio Cannavaro Italian defender played for AC Milan and Real Madrid was the only person to win the award in 2006 since 1990. While in 1995 one of greatest African players George Weah (from Liberia) won it during his stint with AC Milan to defeat the argument about origin.
I hope more column inches will be given to Yaya with his recent efforts with Manchester City and the national team in 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  As the player is leaving giant  footsteps that makes him a genuine candidate for next FIFA footballer of the year.
In the meantime, he has to be content with accolade as African football of year for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Obioma Aguocha

Self Publisher:The Guide to being the Best(Paperback) 2007 &Sporting Success Simplified (E-book) 2012

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