Up next is the best attacking-midfield player of the season - one for the men who play between the lines. It's all very modern...
Stats Zone Premier League Attacking-Midfielder of the Season 2013/14: Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
That’s right, Barcelona fans: our Stats Zone Premier League attacking midfielder of the season is a man who was barely allowed to leave his own half at the Camp Nou and scored four goals in three La Liga seasons.
Five years ago Yaya Toure was playing at centre-back; now the 31-year-old is arguably the man opposition centre-backs fear most. Initiated by Roberto Mancini, sealed by Manuel Pellegrini, the midfielder’s transformation into an offensive force, more Kaka than Kafka, is complete.
The 2013-14 season confirmed that. Not only did Toure continue to dominate the centre of the park like an ostentatious bandstand, turning defence into attack and driving his team forward, he contributed a personal best of nine assists, second only to Steven Gerrard among the league’s midfielders. They were often crucial, too: with Manchester City’s April defeat to Liverpool leaving the Blues in need of a blistering finish, Toure set up a goal in each of their last four fixtures.
And, of course, the provider turned scorer. Toure scored a whopping 20 goals across the campaign, an incredible number for a central midfielder, especially one nominally playing box-to-box behind four attacking stars. The only other midfielder in the Premier League era to score 20 goals in a season was Frank Lampard in 2009-10, and the Chelsea man’s tally of 22 included no fewer than 10 penalties.
Toure’s impressive total for the season does require context: the Ivorian takes penalties for a title-winning team (although you can’t argue with such astonishing accuracy that he converted all six of his spotkicks and scored four free-kicks from seven attempts) and often put the cherry on top of a convincing win cake, with four of his goals coming in the 90th minute or later of a game already in the bag for City. But Toure’s strikes had true quality to go with the quantity. The nonchalant 35-yard curler against Fulham. The rampaging run against Villa. All the free-kicks. He brought style as well as substance.
Toure was also very useful against teams sitting back, probing to help playmakers David Silva and Samir Nasri to find the gaps. Primarily known as a barrelling battering ram (that’s, uh, not David Silva), he displayed his vision and precise passing when City were attacking against numbers. Against West Ham on the final day of the season, he created five chances while succeeding with 114 passes from 117 attempts, at a borderline ridiculous success rate of 97 per cent. Against Aston Villa the week before, he’d assisted a goal as well as scoring one, again completing over 100 passes. Then there was the hat-trick against Fulham and, facing a far better side, Toure’s slide rule reverse pass for Alvaro Negredo’s goal against Everton.
To say Manchester City wouldn’t have won the league without Yaya Toure is an understatement. He proved himself to be one of the world’s best – and undoubtedly the finest attacking midfielder in the 2013-14 Premier League.
And the other winners are...
Stats Zone Premier League Full-Back of the Year
Stats Zone Premier League Centre-Back of the Year
Stats Zone Premier League Central Midfielder of the Year
Stats Zone Premier League Striker of the Year
Stats Zone Premier League Player of the Year
Stats Zone Premier League Young Player of the Year
Stats Zone Premier League Team of the Year