Manchester City spent big in January in the hope that an Ivory Coast star could get their season back on track, but it's an international teammate of Wilfried Bony who could be the catalyst for a title push.
Manuel Pellegrini is hopeful Bony's £25 million signing move from Swansea will boost his team during the second half of the Premier League campaign, but it's the return of Yaya Toure that will have the biggest impact on City's season.
The duo have both spent the past month on international duty, helping Ivory Coast claim victory in the African Cup of Nations after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Ghana in Sunday's final.
Toure is invaluable
During their absence Manchester City have failed to win in five games in all competitions - drawing two and losing three.
While Pellegrini has moved to assure City fans that his team are capable of winning without their powerful midfielder, results have suggested otherwise.
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City's form reached an alarming low point on the weekend, as just 24 hours before Toure lifted the African Cup of Nations, they needed a last gasp James Milner goal to earn a point with struggling Hull City.
While they may have earned a credible 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge without him, City desperately need Toure back in their starting 11.
Though the former Barcelona man has struggled to recreate the kind of form that saw him score 20 Premier League goals last term, he offers City a completely different dimension in midfield.
Both Fernandinho and Fernando are comfortable sitting in front of a back four, and David Silva and Samir Nasri are masters of the art of unlocking defences, but Toure is a is the complete package.
His physical presence mixed with great technical ability make him unstoppable on his day, and without him in the side, teams have been far too comfortable going head-to-head with the City midfield.
And it's not just in the Premier League where he's influential. City take on Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 later this month, and if they're to have any chance of reaching a first ever quarter final they'll need Toure to be at his best.
He's had his critics
At the start of the season it was hard to imagine Toure would be missed quite as much as he has been.
In the opening months of the campaign he looked sluggish and disinterested, causing some to call for him to be dropped from the starting line-up, and Toure is well aware of what the media have said about him.
He told the Manchester Evening News: "When I was in Manchester people were criticising me, about a lot of things.
"Sometimes when you say the truth about football, people don’t listen. Especially you guys from the newspaper. You have to be objective and you have to say the true things."
Now that City are struggling to pick up points, Toure is seen as the missing link, and the Ivorian acknowledge the frustration that comes from reading media reports.
"I’ve always been the guy who does everything to try and do the best
for the team. Sometimes, I know, I can’t be credited for that, but it's part of football," he said.
"But I think my job is to try and do my best. I will sometimes get a little bit upset with some comments, from people who sit in front of the TV, and try and say like they understand football more, and sometimes I want to say ‘b******t."
The wait goes on
Though the African Cup of Nations came to a close on Sunday night, City's wait for their star midfielder will continue to the weekend after Pellegrini confirmed both Toure and Bony won't take part in the tough trip to Stoke on Wednesday night.
However, Pellegrini may be making a mistake by not rushing back his star man.
Stoke, managed by former City boss Mark Hughes, are notoriously physical and if there's one man who can affect a game with great skill while simultaneously dominating the physical side of things it's Toure.
Yes, he'll be tired from a month-long international tournament, but the impact a Toure could have on the City dressing room, not just the starting 11, could be priceless.
It was Bony's January arrival that stole the headlines, but if City are to steal the Premier League title from runaway leaders Chelsea, it will be Yaya Toure who is the deciding factor.
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