Gnégnéri Yaya Touré (born 13 May 1983), commonly known as Yaya Touré, is an Ivorian footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Manchester City and the Ivory Coast national team. Touré is renowned for combining great vision, passing ability, and physical power with technique. A versatile player, he aspired to be a striker during his youth and has played centre back, including for FC Barcelona in the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final. He frequently plays as a box-to-box midfielder for club and country and often switches from defensive and offensive positions throughout matches. Touré began his playing career at Ivorian club ASEC Mimosas, where he made his debut aged 18. He was voted African Footballer of the Year for 2011 and 2012.
His performances attracted attention from Europe, playing for clubs in minor European leagues. Touré played for Beveren in Belgium, Metalurh Donetsk in Ukraine, Olympiacos in Greece, and AS Monaco in France. In 2007, Touré moved to Barcelona, playing over 100 matches for the club and was part of the historic 2009 Barcelona team which won six trophies in one calendar year. Yaya Touré then moved to Premier League club Manchester City in 2010, where he has since scored a number of key goals for the Citizens – most notably the only goals in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final and Final. Touré has a distinguished international career with 74 caps for Ivory Coast, representing the team in their first appearance in a FIFA World Cup, in the 2006 competition and in 2010. He is the younger brother of his Ivory Coast and former Manchester City teammate Kolo Touré
Touré joined ASEC Mimosas youth academy in 1996 on the recommendation of his long-time mentor Patrick van Reijendam. He then moved to Europe where he played for Belgian side Beveren for two-and-a-half years. In 2003, he had a trial with Arsenal. He started in a match against Barnet, playing as a second striker. Manager Arsène Wenger recognised his talent but could not decide on his best position and described his performance against Barnet as “completely average.” Wenger was still keen to sign the then-20-year old but Touré had difficulties in getting a work permit. Ultimately, Touré grew impatient and opted to sign for Ukrainian side Metalurh Donetsk instead, where he spent one-and-a-half years. Touré moved to Olympiacos in 2005. He was nicknamed “the new Patrick Vieira” by his older brother. His performances were impressive and attracted interest from many clubs.
After representing Ivory Coast in the 2006 World Cup, Yaya Touré was signed by French Ligue 1 side AS Monaco in August 2006. Yaya had a difficult relationship with the incumbent manager, László Bölöni, with Yaya claiming Bölöni refused to play him in his preferred midfield position. Bölöni was soon sacked with Monaco languishing second from bottom in the league. Laurent Banide replaced him and Yaya became an influential player in the second half of the season, scoring five times to help haul the club out of relegation difficulties. Yaya had established himself as a key midfielder, and with interest from around Europe he decided to join FC Barcelona in the summer of 2007.
Touré joined Spanish side Barcelona for €10 million (£6.7 million) and made his official debut for the club on 26 August 2007 during the league opener against Racing de Santander.In the 2007 Joan Gamper Trophy match against Inter Milan of Italy, Touré scored his first goal for Barcelona in a 5–0 victory. He scored his first official goal with Barcelona in a La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao on 2 September 2007, a 3–1 triumph for the Catalans. His first goal in the Champions League for Barça was against Schalke 04 in the 2007–08 quarter-finals, securing a 2–0 aggregate victory and a berth in the semi-finals.During the early stages of the 2008–09 season, newly appointed manager Pep Guardiola favoured Sergio Busquets in the defensive role of Barcelona’s midfield trio. In the 2009 Champions League Final, he played centre back due to injuries and suspensions of first-choice defenders, despite having only played there twice before for Barcelona. In late June 2010, Barcelona confirmed that Touré would be allowed to leave the club in the summer.
On 2 July 2010, Touré signed a five-year deal with Premier League club Manchester City for a fee of around £24 million and was allocated squad number 42, which is the reverse of the number 24 jersey he sported at Barcelona, since Patrick Vieira had already been allocated that number. The move teamed Touré up with his elder brother Kolo, who signed for City in July 2009 from Arsenal. On 28 July, Touré made his debut for City in a pre-season friendly against Club América, which City won 4–1 on penalties after a 1–1 draw with the Mexican side. In his home debut on 7 August, in another friendly match against Valencia CF, he was named man of the match.
On 14 August 2010, Touré made his Premier League debut in a 0–0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. A week later, Touré impressed in the 3–0 defeat of Liverpool at Eastlands, forming a part of a three man midfield with Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong. On 19 September, Touré scored his first goal against Wigan Athletic. The goal was scored in the 70th minute and Touré was assisted by Carlos Tévez, who also scored in that match. Touré had been seen to take up a more attacking position under Roberto Mancini and revelled in the position. He scored a brilliant left-footed drive against West Ham United and soon scored a second, which was later credited as an own goal because the ball rebounded off the post onto Robert Green‘s back and bounced in. He scored his third goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a delightful counter-attack move, with Touré making up 90 yards to latch onto the ball and fire if past the goalkeeper, with Manchester City eventually winning 4–3. Touré’s fifth goal for City came on 25 February in a Europa League game against Aris. The goal was a deflected strike to make the score 3–0 to man city. On 16 April 2011, Touré scored the only goal of the game in a Man of the Match performance against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. Touré continued his Wembley success by scoring the only goal in his side’s 1–0 win over Stoke City in the 2011 FA Cup Final, ending Manchester City’s 35-year wait for a major trophy, and writing himself into Manchester City folklore in the process.
The 2011–12 season began strongly as Manchester City lead the table for the majority of the season, with Touré playing a vital part in midfield. His efforts were rewarded as he was crowned African Footballer of the Year for 2011, an impressive achievement for a midfielder, since the previous 12 awards have gone to African forwards.
On 3 January 2012, in a match against Liverpool, Touré scored City’s second goal of the game, a 33rd minute header from a David Silva corner. He was later fouled for the penalty that made the score 3–0 to City. On 5 January, it was announced that Touré would be leaving to join the Ivorian national team for the Africa Cup of Nations and would miss City’s FA Cup third round clash with fierce rivals Manchester United.
Commenting to Sky Sports News after being targeted by racist mobs throughout a UEFA Europa League tie at FC Porto in February 2012 (his first game back with City after the African Nations Cup), Touré spoke of his love for playing football in England: “That’s why we like the Premier League, it never happens there.”
As the 2011–12 came to close, Manchester City lost ground to Manchester United in the Premier League title race. After a defeat by Arsenal on 8 April 2012, an eight-point deficit had been established between City and leaders United, with most writing off City’s chances of winning the league with six matches remaining.
City, however, beat West Bromwich Albion 4–0, Norwich City 6–1, and Wolvehampton Wanderers 2–0 with United slipping up, meaning the deficit at the top was now only three points with only three matches to play. A victory against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium would move City to top on goal difference. The match was keenly anticipated as one of the most important matches the Premier League’s 20-year history. Manchester City won the match, thanks to Vincent Kompany headed goal just before half-time. Touré’s performance throughout the match garnered many plaudits in the media, describing his performance as “dominant” and “magnificent.”Touré netted a brace on 6 May in City’s 2–0 win over Newcastle United, moving three points above Manchester United with one game left to play in the Premier League season. Touré played the full first half before coming off due to injury as City defeated Queens Park Rangers 3–2 on the final day of the season, assisting Pablo Zabaleta‘s opening goal in the 39th minute, to secure the first league championship for the Sky Blues in 44 years.
Touré started the 2012–13 season with a goal in the FA Community Shield in the 3–2 win over Chelsea in Aston Villa‘s stadium Villa Park. This goal was followed up by scoring first for City in two games, against Liverpool at Anfield and against Queens Park Rangers at home. In City’s opening Champions League game of the season, away to Real Madrid, Touré produced a stellar individual performance, assisting an Edin Džeko goal and continually worrying the hosts. Despite his best efforts, however, City lost 3–2 to a late Cristiano Ronaldo goal. He also scored in the Manchester derby, making it 2–1 to Manchester United, but City eventually lost 3–2. On 20 December 2012, Touré was crowned the 2012 African Player of the Year award at a ceremony in Accra, Ghana. It is the second time he has won the award. Touré was said to be crying as he accepted the award. On 24 February 2013, after returning from the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Touré scored the opening goal as City beat Chelsea 2–0 in the Premier League.On 4 April 2013, Touré signed a new contract with City, keeping him at the club until 2017. On 14 April, he was named man of the match as City again beat Chelsea, this time in the semi-final of the FA Cup.
Touré scored his first goal of the 2013–14 season with a free kick as City beat Newcastle United 4–0 in their opening Premier League game. In City’s second home match of the season he scored in a similar fashion from a free kick against Hull City. His form continued with a goal from distance in the UEFA Champions League group match against Viktoria Plzeň on 17 September 2013. On 22 September, he scored the second goal in a 4–1 derby win over Manchester United and was named man of the match. His scoring streak continued when he scored direct from a free kick against Wigan Athletic in the third round of the Football League Cup. On 2 November, he scored again direct from a free kick, this time in a 7-0 victory against Norwich City.  The goal was his fifth in the league and seventh overall.  His current manager Manuel Pellegrini has noted that Touré regularly stays behind after training to improve his free kick technique.On 23 October 2013, Touré was the subject of racist abuse from CSKA Moscow supporters at the Arena Khimki in the group stage of the Champions League.