Toure's grand tour settles for City attractions

MANCHESTER - Midfielder Yaya Toure has played in his native Ivory Coast as well as Belgium, Ukraine, Greece, Monaco and Spain but feels at last he has found a place to call home - rainy Manchester in north west England.

The old industrial metropolis may lack the glamour of Barcelona, where he spent the last three seasons, but his grand tour of Europe has reached an end for the foreseeable future after committing himself to Manchester City for five years.

Although he would not discuss widespread reports that City are paying him 200,000 pounds a week, the affable Ivorian gave many reasons why he chose City rather than Arsenal or Manchester United who he said both courted him this summer.

"City have a great squad and some great players. We can win the title, we can make this club huge," the fast-talking 27-year-old told Reuters in an interview at City's Eastlands stadium.

Two people helped sway his decision - his brother, City club captain Kolo Toure, and Italian coach Roberto Mancini.

They helped convince him his strength and experience could help City break into the Premier League's top four and ultimately become English and possibly European champions.

"When the coach makes it clear he wants you, and chases you and says he needs you to make the team better, well for me, it's easy," he said.

"That's the most important thing for a player, to feel wanted by the coach. If you don't talk to the coach, and he's mot interested in you, that's bad. So I decided to come to Manchester City, we have signed some fantastic players and I think we are going to be great this season.

"It is also great that my brother is here. Kolo is a great guy, a funny guy. I play with him in the national team and five years ago we spoke about me trying to join the same club. Now I am at City I am very happy about that."


The two could have been together at Arsenal in the past because the club's manager Arsene Wenger was keen on signing him nearly a decade ago after an impressive two-month trial.

"He wanted to sign me but I was only 18, I was too young. I was not an international and if you were not European and wanted a move to England you had to have played in 75 percent of your national team's matches.

"I had been at Beveren in Belgium since I was 17 so I went back there. But I always wanted to play in the Premiership one day. I have watched it on TV for years. Physically it is great, the players, the fans. I am looking forward to it."

While the salary was clearly an attraction, he was more keen to talk about the challenges ahead as they chase their first English title since 1968.

Bankrolled by the fortune of owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, City spent 24 million pounds on securing Toure's signature from Barcelona, where he won the Champions League in 2009, and bought David Silva for the same amount from Valencia.

Their other close season signings, Aleksander Kolarov from Lazio and Jerome Boateng from Hamburg SV, have pushed spending towards 80 million pounds with further investment likely in James Milner from Aston Villa and Mario Balotelli from Inter Milan.

Those players will strengthen a side that narrowly missed out on fourth place in the Premier League last season, and Toure believes City will do better this season.


"Even if we finish second, that would not be a failure. There are some great teams in the Premier League - Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool - and it will not be easy for us," he said.

"But Manchester City is becoming a big team, we have a lot of new signings and although everyone around the world has now heard of Manchester City, there is no pressure on me personally.

"I have played at a lot of clubs, like Barcelona where the pressure is amazing. I have a lot of experience, but I don't think there is pressure. We are going to enjoy it."

He will also be keen to start the new season on a high after Ivory Coast's disappointing World Cup, where, along with all but one African side, they failed to progress past the group stage.

"That was disappointing. We were in the same group as Brazil and Portugal and went out despite four points and four goals," he said.

"People were upset in Ivory Coast, where people are crazy about football - sometimes when I go back to Ivory Coast, people look at me not like a god, because God is the most important thing in life, but like a very important person. When people see you they think you can help them, people have so many problems in Africa."

Toure has already embarked on a project at City to help talented young African players start a similar journey to his.

City launched an online coaching school, the "cityecademy", on Friday with Toure as its ambassador. It is designed to help coaches and amateurs around the world improve their skills.

"I hope it can have an impact in Ivory Coast," he said, "And one day some other players from there will be at City as well."

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