Yaya: Barcelona to Man City is no step down
Yaya Toure has claimed the Premier League is better than Spain's La Liga and that his big-money move to Manchester City from Barcelona is not a "step down".
Toure, who joins his brother Kolo at Eastlands, is arguably carrying the biggest expectations of all City's recruits due to his £24 million transfer fee, £200,000 a week wages and his pedigree as a Champions League winner with the Spanish champions.
City will need Toure, 27, to live up to the hype if they are to break into the Premier League's top four and challenge for silverware in this and upcoming seasons. There's a danger Toure could simply be looking for an easy payday but the Ivorian midfielder insists he will make this chapter of his career as significant as the previous one by driving City to the next level.
"I don't think this is a step down,'' said Toure, who was speaking at the launch of City's revolutionary online coaching school. "The Premier League is amazing. It is stronger than La Liga. And Manchester City are making great strides within it. In future they will be a big club. Every team in every country is starting to talk about the club. They know we are signing good, important players and I want to do my bit. I don't feel pressure. I do have a lot of experience and I am determined to do my very best to make this club successful.''
Saturday's clash with Tottenham at White Hart Lane will represent the end of a decade-long odyssey for Toure. Just like Kolo, Arsene Wenger wanted Toure at Arsenal as a raw teenager only for work permit problems to scupper the potential move to north London.
Instead Toure headed for Belgium, Ukraine, Greece and France before finally ending up at Barcelona, where he quickly established himself as a forceful midfielder in a similar mould to Patrick Vieira, whom he now has the chance to play alongside. Sir Alex Ferguson expressed an interest, although, according to Toure, he did not use the same personal touch he got from City boss Roberto Mancini.
"When you sign for any team, the most important thing is the contact you have with the trainer,'' he said. "When they do something and they put pressure on in some way to sign you it is very important. When you don't talk with the trainer it is bad. That is why I came to Manchester City. We have a fantastic coach and we are signing good players. It will be great here this year.''
After admiring the Premier League from a distance, Toure is thrilled to get the chance to experience its action and drama for himself. And he already has his eyes set on one of its biggest fixtures, the Manchester derby.
"I love the Premier League,'' he said. "I have always wanted to play here. The biggest players play here. People like Steven Gerrard and my biggest friend Didier Drogba. Physically it is good. You have to be strong and I am thirsty to do well here. There are so many big teams - Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and the rest. But City are here now and maybe for United that is not so nice because we are making good progress. I really want to see how they do against us.''