Manchester City ponder replacing Yaya Toure after dip in form
Premier League champions Manchester City, 7/2 chances with Coral to retain the title, are mulling over moving to replace Yaya Toure, following the Ivory Coast international’s dramatic dip in form.
Midfield powerhouse Toure, 31, netted 20 league goals (24 in all competitions) as the Etihad outfit wrestled the English top-flight crown back from neighbours Manchester United last term. This season, however, he has scored just three times in 16 outings for City.
Names linked with replacing Toure, who almost left the Etihad this summer following a birthday-related snub, include Juventus’ former United midfielder Paul Pogba and Everton prodigy Ross Barkley.
France international Pogba, 21, won the Golden Boy award in 2013 for the best young player in Europe and has caught the eye for both club and country this calendar year. He netted seven goals in Serie A as Juve won a third straight Scudetto, the second league crown Pogba has lifted in Turin.
Barkley, meanwhile, has endured a stop-start season at Goodison Park because of injury. Recently recalled to the England squad, the 20-year-old helped Roberto Martinez’s Toffees get into the Europa League last term after scoring six times in the Premier League in 2013/14.
Despite converting a direct free kick last time out in the Champions League against CSKA Moscow, Toure was subsequently sent off for reacting to being blocked off. This means a ban for at least City’s next match in Europe’s elite club competition.
To make matters worse, Toure’s suspension coincides with fellow midfielder Fernandinho being unavailable, with the Brazil international also seeing red against CSKA. Manuel Pellegrini’s men must take on Bundesliga champions and already confirmed Champions League Group E winners Bayern Munich without their first-choice engine room pair.
In order for City to stay at Europe’s top table, they must at least match Roma’s result against Moscow and then win in the Italian capital in the final group game. The Sky Blues are 9/2 outsiders to qualify for the Champions League knockout phase from their pool. City could drop into the Europa League if they finish third in the group, but must be wary of CSKA’s better head-to-head record.