The news of Yaya Toure’s retirement came as a source of grief and anguish for every Cityzen and Premier League fan. Almost every rational football fan will agree that the 6’2 midfielder earned a place in the hall of fame amongst the greatest midfielders in the history of the Premier League. Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Paul Scholes are one of the most revered and adored players the league has ever seen, but the likes of Roy Keane, David Silva, and Yaya Toure have also earned the right to be counted amongst the greatest. Every City fan will agree to the fact that the Ivorian had the biggest role to play in the initiation of City’s crusade of Premier League dominance.
At first glance Rodrigo Hernandez Cascante does not like the kind of player that Pep Guardiola would call upon to fill the massive gap left by Yaya Toure, which is why the City administration brought the Spanish international in to do exactly that. He became CIty’s record signing, making a $79 mn move to the Etihad Stadium from Atletico Madrid on a contract of 5 years. It is believed that he has the ability to add a physical presence and an attacking threat to their opponents.
City already have a strong core of Spanish players and while the talk of winning the Champions League is a touchy subject for the Pep, Rodri is aware of the fact that he was not signed just so he could help City retain the Premier League title for the third successive year.
The former Atletico Madrid man shares some features with Yaya Toure, at around 6’2 Rodri commands control in the air better than your average defensive midfielder and has a dominating presence in the midfield just like Yaya Toure. He is an agile and athletic individual with the built of a cage fighter, who shatters the preconceived ideas and stereotypes that people hold regarding spanish midfielders- small, tricky, elusive etc.
Rodri’s teammate, Kevin De Bruyne believes he is the perfect man for the job. Rodri has earned the praise of both his coach and his Belgian teammate who consider him to be an incredible player, with the aptitude and talent to achieve great success at Etihad. Rodri is often credited to have a similar playing style to that of Sergio Busquets, whose role he is ready to inherit in Spain’s international outfit. In the age where players define parameters around which younger players seem to conform into, comparisons are quite inevitable. Similarly the comparison between Rodri and Busquets seems unavoidable. Rodri is the perfect fit for Manchester City because Guardiola has still held on to the Catalan way of football and Rodri has the qualities to play that way.
Rodri’s arrival came at the perfect time for City, as they still had Fernandinho to call upon whenever required. The experienced brazilian spent years as the backbone of City’s midfield and defensive endeavours and could always be relied on to make the sacrifice play and commit tactical fouls whenever the team was left exposed to threats on counter-attacks or otherwise.
Though Yaya Toure left City on a sour note, criticising Guardiola for being racially discriminative, as a reason to not call upon the Ivorian to represent City on the field as often as he felt warranted. This was an extremely disrespectful and false statement considering the growth of Samuel Eto’o, Eric Abidal, Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling under the guidance of the Catalan gaffer. The Cityzens bid him a classy adieu and honoured him with a mural at City’s training ground.
He might not have hung his boots up for good just yet, but it is safe to say the Ivorian’s best years were behind him. Yaya Toure will forever be one of the most celebrated personalities to play at the Etihad. Many may come after him, but none possess the calibre or the talent to replace him as one of the greatest in the league.