For half a decade, Yaya Toure has been the best central midfielder in the Premier League. However, even through two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup, the Ivorian’s value truly did not register until he took off for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in January.
Prior to his departure, Toure’s last nine appearances resulted in victories and left Manchester City tied for top of the league. After a 3-2 win over Sunderland on New Year’s Day, City stood eye-to-eye with Chelsea on 46 points. Had the season ended on that day, Chelsea and Manchester City would have required a playoff to decide the winner of the Premier League.
After winning Africa’s continental cup with his native Ivory Coast, Toure returns to a club that is seven points adrift of the top with no remaining head-to-head meetings with the league-leading Londoners. Without Toure, Man City went winless in its next five matches, including two defeats, one of which knocked the Citizens out of the FA Cup.