Africa

Last updated: 27 november, 2009 - 17:10 GMT

Yaya Toure

The last 12 months have, without doubt, seen Barcelona and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure develop from being a very good player to a world star, as well as amass an astonishing amount of honours.

He was a key component of the Catalan club's record setting season in 2008-09, when they won the Spanish league and Cup double as well as the Champions League title, and then in August they also added silverware from the Spanish and European Super Cups.

Yaya Toure

The statistics tell the story of Yaya Toure's season at club level and just how highly Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola rates him.

He was ever present during the knock out stages of the Champions League, en route to them beating Manchester United 2-0 in the final.

He played in 25 of Barcelona's 38 La Liga games last season but, emphasising his quality as a central midfield pivot who often reinforces the defence, is the fact that he only picked up four yellow cards and was never sent off and so avoided any suspensions.

Vital player

His importance to Barca was also apparent when he was absent. Three of Barca's five league losses last season came when Toure was injured.

Toure's presence has been equally important for the Ivory Coast and he played in five of the Elephants' six Round 3 qualifying matches in their unbeaten run to the World Cup finals.

The only match he missed was their 5-0 home win over Malawi in March, a game which will tragically be remembered for the stampede in the oversold Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in which 19 people were killed.

"We have to go as far as we can in this competition for all the people who died," reflected Toure, showing his compassionate side and one of the motivating factors behind Ivory Coast's determination to do well in South Africa next summer.

Toure joined Barcelona from Greek club Olympiakos for €9 million in 2007 but his increased value to Barcelona, in every respect, was shown this summer by the fact that he and the club agreed to extend his contract by a year until 2012.

Nevertheless, the Spanish media in recent months has been awash with reports that some English teams - he has been linked with Arsenal and Manchester City among others - are apparently prepared to pay up to €25 million for his services.

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