Wenger missed a real gem in Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure has slipped straight into the Barcelona first teamWhy is Yaya Toure playing for Barcelona? 

There’s not much going on today apart from a pretty funny rant from Jens Lehmann about the Arsenal goalkeeping situation, so I thought I’d turn my attention to an issue that has had me perplexed for some time now; Yaya Toure joining Barcelona. As many readers will know, Yaya is the younger brother of Arsenal defender Kolo Toure and he recently joined Spanish side Barcelona for a fee worth €10m. Surprisingly, Yaya slipped straight into the starting team at Barcelona for their first game of the season against Athletic Bilbao and scored an absolute thunderbolt of a goal in the Catalans 3-1 win.

But why is Yaya playing for Barcelona and not Arsenal? Back when the Ivorian was plying his trade in Greece with Olympiakos, older brother Kolo was quite vocal about the obvious talent his younger brother possessed and encouraged the Arsenal Football Club to make a bid for Yaya.

“He has great ability. When I watch him he looks like Patrick [Vieira]. He is a tall player, has great ability and he can help the club. He is a better player [than me], he is a midfielder and has great ability. He is fantastic. It would be fantastic, my brother and me.”

Sure enough, reports soon filtered through that Arsenal had put in a €7m bid for Yaya in January 2006 transfer window. Somewhat surprisingly, the offer was knocked back by Olympiakos, with the Greek club stating that they wanted to wait until the off-season before considering selling the Ivorian. Astonishingly, he was then offloaded to French side AS Monaco for a €4.5m, a figure well below what was offered by Arsenal. He played with Monaco for one season which saw his value increase substantially before being transferred to Barcelona.

Kolo Toure recommended his brother to Arsene WengerA confusing sequence of events

The thing that confuses me about this sequence of events is that no other offer was made by Arsenal apart from the inital bid in January 2006. It was quite obvious from the performances he produced with Monaco and the positive words from brother Kolo that Yaya was a player with an abundance of potential. What’s more, he was not an established star, something that manager Arsene Wenger tends to avoid, and the cost it would have taken to bring him to the club was anything but unreasonable.

Despite the abundance of midfielders at the club there was a distinct lack of defensive midfield options. You only have to look at Arsenal’s recent signing of Lassana Diarra to realise that Wenger shared this point of view. Whilst Diarra will surely prove to be an excellent purchase for Arsenal the indications are already there that Yaya is already well on his way to becoming a world-class player. Yaya’s manager Frank Rijkaard is not the only one to have seen the ability that the younger Toure possesses, with teammate Andres Iniesta also singing his praises of late. 

“He helps at the back and also joins in up front. His ball control is especially good, and that’s important in a position like his.”

Patrick Vieira’s dominating presence has yet to be replaced by ArsenalThe successor that never was 

So why wasn’t Yaya snapped up by Arsenal? He fit the billing as a perfect signing for the club; young, technically gifted and relatively inexpensive. There seems no logical reason as to why a second bid was not made. Maybe, despite Kolo’s claims that the two brothers would work well together in the same team, Wenger believed there was a conflict of interest in bringing two players of the same family into the same club. Maybe he has a policy against it. Who knows.

The fact is that while Arsenal possess a wealth of talented midfielders in their that will serve the club for years to come, Wenger has missed out on a player who appears to have abilities that none of his current squad possess. Much has been said about Abou Diaby’s potential to replace Patrick Vieira as the club’s premier battling midfielder, But as great as Diaby proves to be, I just wonder whether Vieira’s real successor is playing in Spain rather than London.

What do you think?

Have your say on Yaya Toure by leaving a comment.



  1. If Arsene did bid for him January 2006, he is not against having two players of the same family in the team.
    Wenger might have opted against bidding again once he came to know that Barca are showing great interest in him. We all know Wenger wont go into a bidding war, that too against a club like barca.

  2. I have to say that Arsenal’s original bid was always unconfirmed, so it may or may not have happened. Regardless, Wenger and Arsenal have missed out on a great player.

  3. yaya toure was on trial with us 3 seasons back, i watched him play in a friendly against barnet and in austria, he was playing at beveren back then, but i cant remember what happened, i think it was a work permit problem.
    then he moved to metabug donestk something like that, for peanuts and then olympiakos bought him and he had a good season there, i think wenger did bid for him but it was rejected then wenger decided to buy abou diaby for 3m.

  4. I was shocked when he signed for monaco and then just couldnt believe it when he went to barca, i always assumed that he was guaranteed to join arsenal really, i remember he was amazing in the last world cup and thought that was the time to bring him in but it never materialised. Very disappointed as he is perfect replacement for vieira, ti be honest though i think wenger has put all his hope in Diaby now to be the main man in years to come.Was unfortunate that his deveopment was hindered by that terrible injury.

  5. the good thing about abou diaby is i got a feeling he is going to be an attacking midfielder but with good defensive quality, i.e. similar to the beast but better.
    i just got a feeling wenger still doesnt know where to put him.
    hence we sign diarra, and he is a defensive machine

  6. “i always assumed that he was guaranteed to join arsenal really”

    I felt that way too. Was honestly shocked when he joined Barcelona, and am even more surprised with how well he’s done.

  7. yaya n kolo also are World Class players. Arsenal Should get d service of yaya few seasons ago but now Arsenal have huge members of talent in the same position- Central Midfield such as Gilbeto, Fabregas, Diaby, Denilson, Diarra, Flamini, Merida….So we not need service of yaya.

  8. agreed. if anything, we’re overloaded with talent in the midfield. i find it no big deal though it would be cool to have brothers start or play for arsenal

  9. morning spanish,
    i see you´ve well and truly got your web site up and running now, congratulations on that, its really good.
    i think we never really went back for yaya because after our intial bid was turned down, wenger went for diaby instead.

  10. GS is right.. Yaya was at Beveren if I am not mistaken. Beveren is of course one of our sister clubs. Saw him play against Anderlecht a few times and was fairly imprseeive when on. We had plenty of chances to get him tho.. maybe AW “missed” a gem.. who knows. I do believe there is a very strong link between Moanco and Barca, so I wasnt surpsised with those turn of events. Also, it is possible, that he may want to play for them more than us, thus making him foolish, and therefore not Arsenal material.

  11. Thanks Tubes, I appreciate the kind words. I’ve been working pretty hard on it 😉

    austen“if anything, we’re overloaded with talent in the midfield.”

    I know where you’re coming from, but you just don’t turn down the opportunity to improve the squad. Bare in mind the fact that Diarra was signed recently, I don’t believe we had a truly defensive-minded midfielder at the time Yaya Toure was sold. I don’t think I’ll ever know why he wasn’t signed, and frankly it bugs me!

  12. yaya toure is a good player, he had a decent world cup but i think arsene had problems with work permits.
    but ibrahim toure is also there, maybe we should go for him.

  13. you guys pls im rili serius! u have to get a load of that nigerian striker macauley chrisantus!he is deadly! and i can say that with no exaggerations typical henry finishing! top class! and he is dying to play for arsenal can you believe? some1 shuld alert wenger cuz if this guy shuld pass us by it will be a real blow! he is the highest goal scorerin the u17 world cup righ now! has any1 here seen his goals!!? pls u guys shuld watch the finals against spain! i hope we get him now dat he is cheap and b4 all dis big clubs rush him ! jeeze! i have neva seen a 17 yr old do magic with is feet like that when he wants to score since pele! composure is 100%! im impressed! Go Gunners

  14. spanish fry pls do sumtin! write to wenger or sumtin pls! tha merida is gud too! i’ll keep u guys updated with the world cup! but macauley chrisantus is gold!

  15. I agree that our midfield is packes with talent, but Yaya could have borught a whole lot more talent to the squad. I thought we would get him this summer and i think AW did aswell, until Barca joined in. Barca luv taking our players, first it was henry then it was Yaya.

  16. I understand he’s talented, but i’m starting to feel this is all a moot point because we’ve signed lassana diarra who i think will eventually take over gilberto’s position as defensive mid. though… i doubt he’ll be the invisible wall…

  17. am really interested in abou diaby progress this season, i love it when he plays.
    especially when he makes them bursts through the middle.
    quickfeet, strong, mobile, he can be a world class player, just needs too play more games

  18. taking fabregas out of the limelight for a min.

    imagine abou diaby and lassana diarra, i can see the petit-vieira combo, but with more technical ability and creativity

  19. Gunnershabz – The only times i would see Fab out of the limelight is games we don’t need to win or have already won, like 4-0 agg games or getting subbed on. Fab is so creative, stylish and just that sense about him. He makes fans around the world love being an arsenal supporter. AW made him who he is but he gotta kep playin. The only run they can play in is the Carling Cup run but AW played Fabregas there last season too. But he has brought Diarra so maybe he wanted Fab to rest this season. Interesting comment tho, i just totally hate the idea of Fab being out of the limelight.

  20. Jay: I dont thik GS was suggesting he be rested or not played.. I believe he was saying it would be nice for Fabs to be able to get on without all the yes and expectations on him.. nothing to do with playing time, more to do with other players stepping into the limelight to take some of the foucs away from fabs, who is still very young.

  21. Just wanted to say Eduardo Da Silva has 4 goals for the season as scoring for your country counts and since he joined Arsenal he has scored 3 for Croatia nad 1 for arsenal so he has 4 goals and so does Fabregas!!

  22. Sam Nix: I understand that, i thought he meant stop playing Fabregas. Which is insane. I think we have a large amount of players who are ready to show off their talents and there are 2 players who are taking the youth players by storm. Giles Sunu of Chateauroux and Efrain Valdez of Barcelona. They are talents to watch. Also is there any news of how many games or goals that player who is on loan to Osasuna has played or scored.

  23. A lot of talent has been spotted at the U-17 world cup including 2 players from arsenal. Henri Lansbury – England and Fran Merida – Spain.

  24. Don’t doubt AW guys. Hes not one to pay insane prices for players, and I asume both with barca in the scene and there link with monnaco, AW decided against it.

  25. ryoyee9arsenal dnt know what hes talking about yaya would be great gilberto has lost it denilson ain ready neither diaby n flamini mioght be leaving anyway so think and our starting team would bthe e following with yaya


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