Football

Kolo Toure.

Kolo Toure explains difficult times after Arsenal moved stadiums

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Kolo Toure is likely to start for Liverpool when they take on his former club Arsenal at Anfield on Wednesday evening, but few of the travelling fans will see fit to boo the veteran defender.

Now 34-years-old, the sight of Toure in an Arsenal shirt seems like a distant memory. And, such were the circumstances behind his departure to Manchester City, it may be hard for the Gunners faithful to remember exactly what happened.

It was 2009 and City had moved quickly to sign him, eventually agreeing on a £14million fee with Arsenal. He was an important player at the time but fans were still fuming with the departure of Emmanuel Adebayor, who had forced his way to the Etihad in controversial circumstances just days earlier.

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In hindsight, Toure's departure was just footnote in a turbulent period for the north London outfit. He was amongst many high profile stars to leave following their move to the Emirates Stadium. Self-financing the 60,000-seat arena placed tremendous pressure on Wenger to balance to books, which meant player sales were unavoidable.

For the first time, Toure has described what he believed to be a 'difficult' period for both him and the club. He believes selling off key stars like Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry contributed to their nine-year trophy drought, but appears to understand why Wenger had to do it.

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Everything changed

"I am not inside anymore but there has been a lot of change. A lot of players left the club, guys like Patrick Vieira, leaders left the club and it was quite difficult, but this policy started when they started the new stadium," the Liverpool defender said.

"Everything changed. They needed to sell some players, cut the wage bill and that is all about it."

"I think they lost so many experienced players. Patrick Vieira was a leader, Robert Pires was a top player, Thierry Henry left and sometimes you need experience at the club and then a young player can learn, that is one of the things."

Arsenal's Thierry Henry (C) opens his ar

Making stars

While Wenger did not win anything in the ensuing years after 2005, he drew plenty of plaudits for keeping Arsenal in the top four, thus in the Champions League and, vitally, in the black.

He famously replaced those established stars with unknown, yet supremely talented, youngsters like Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas. Toure himself was one such star. He was plucked from obscurity; signed for almost nothing from ASEC Mimosas and transformed into an established star.

It is that ability that, according to Toure, makes Wenger an unbelievable manager.

He added: "Wenger is a top manager, he has shown that unbelievably. The thing I like is this manager can make an average player one of the best players in the world.

"He did that with so many players - [George] Weah... Vieira was in Milan not playing a lot... Thierry Henry was at Juventus and he made him one of the best ever.

"He did that with me because I started from nowhere. He took me to the next level and I always respect him for that."

Arsenal v Fulham

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Topics:
Kolo Toure
Liverpool
Arsenal
Premier League
Football

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