At the end of last month Liverpool agreed a deal to sign Kolo Toure after his contract with Manchester City expires in June.

But at 32 years of age Toure hardly fits the specifications laid out by both Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool owners to only buy young, talented players who could be with the club for many years. 

This very much feels like something of a quick-fix, with Toure in many ways a like-for-like replacement for the retiring Jamie Carragher: an experienced Premier League defender who can drift in and out of the first team while mentoring the younger players - a role Carragher became all to accustomed too in his final years at Anfield. 

With question marks also hanging over the futures of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates, Rodgers and co are still likely to have to strengthen further in defence, with rumours linking Liverpool with a move for Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 21, more than plausible. 

But just what does Toure offer? Will he merely be an expensive name on the wage bill, reminiscent of the 'free' signings of Joe Cole or Andriy Voronin, or does he still have something to bring to a club with ambitions of re-establishing themselves a place in the elite of British football. 

Certainly he has a more than impressive CV. After joining Arsenal for a fee of £150,000 from ASEC Mimosas back in 2002 he quickly established himself as a first-team regular - debuting in that year's Community Shield victory over Liverpool, while picking up another medal in the 2003 FA Cup, although he was an unused substitute in the final itself.

Initially regarded as a utility player capable of playing both as a defensive midfielder and a right back, Toure eventually found his home in the centre of defence and formed a terrific partnership with Sol Campbell in the 'invincibles' team of the 2003-04 Premier League season.

A year later Toure was in and out of the Arsenal team as Pascal Cygan and Phillipe Senderos challenged him for the right to play alongside Campbell - the uncertainty arguably a contributing factor in their relinquishing of the league title. However, he did end the season with a second FA Cup winners medal as his side defeated Manchester United on penalties.

In 2006-07 Toure's reputation sored as he became regarded as one of the best defenders in Europe. He scored the only goal as Arsenal defeated Villareal 1-0 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-final: his strike proving both enough to take the Gunners to their first ever European Cup final and to be the last ever European goal at Highbury.

Despite Arsenal's 2-1 defeat in the final at the hands of Barcelona, Toure was handed the vacant number five shirt, last worn by club legend Martin Keown, at the start of the 2007-08 season, while he also captained his side for the first time in a 6-3 League Cup success later that year over, of all clubs, Liverpool. 

After struggling with injury and rumours of a 'bust-up' with defensive partner William Gallas during the 2008-09 season Toure requested a transfer, and although he eventually agreed to stay on until the end of the season, his move to Manchester was clearly inevitable for some time.

Toure was one of a number of high profile signings for Mark Hughes' Manchester City in the summer of 2009, and he captained his new side to fifth place in his first season at the club.

A summer later new City manager Roberto Mancini took away the armband, instead handing it to Carlos Tevez, and in December 2010 his red card during a 2-1 defeat to Everton denied his side the chance to lead the Premier League table at Christmas. 

In March 2011 Toure was controversially handed a six-month ban for a failed drugs test - causing him to miss out on a third FA Cup winners medal at the end of the 2010-11 season.

From this point on Toure never truly forced himself back into Mancini's first-team plans, with Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott the favoured partnership as City won their first Premier League title in 44 years in 2012. However, he did make 14 appearances, enough to pick up a winners medal. 

The arrival of Matija Nastasic further limited Kolo's first team oppurtunities last season as City limply gave up their Premier League title to their cross-city rivals United, and it came as no surprise when it was announced he would not be offered a new contract. 

It remains to be seen how bigger part he has to play at Liverpool - undoubtedly this will partly depend on any further in's and out's at the club this summer.

But it is worth remembering that the Ivorian has not become a bad player overnight, he's now looking a lot closer to full fitness than he did when he first returned from his drugs ban and, while he's perhaps not as mobile as he was at the height of his power's, as a defender with a good footballing brain he should still have at least a couple of years left at the top level.


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Topics:
#Manchester City
#Liverpool
#Kolo Toure
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