Born: May 13, 1983, in Bouake, Ivory Coast
Nickname: Canon Toure
Clubs played for: Barcelona signed Toure for $12 million in 2007, after the defensive midfielder impressed in his time with Olympiacos and Monaco. Last season, when Barcelona won a historic treble, Toure was a valuable presence in the centre of midfield, behind Barcelona's attacking triumvirate of Messi, Andres Iniesta (or Thierry Henry) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
International career: Since becoming a regular in Barcelona's lineup, Toure has taken on a great role with the Ivory Coast national team. He still plays an important defensive role in the midfield, but is also relied upon to create some offence for Les Elephants (The Elephants).
Why is he so special? In one-on-one situations, the 26-year-old’s superior physical attributes give him an edge. Toure is a tower of solid muscle and boundless strength. At nearly six feet, four inches, he is hard to out-jump and his long legs make him even harder to out-run.
His most famous moment: Toure's poacher's goal against Schalke helped Barcelona win the 2007-2008 quarter-final tie and take L'equip blaugrana to the semi-final.
He said it: "The most important thing for me when I arrived in Spain was to break into the Barcelona first team. Then from there, one can only improve. You have to look at some of the African players who started a bit slow in Europe, but once they settled in the environment, they blossomed."
What they’re saying about him: "He can do just about anything." — Laurent Banide, former Monaco manager.
Here is an interesting fact: Earlier in the year, newspapers in England tried to provoke tension between Yaya Toure and his older brother Kolo when it was reported that Kolo was aggressively trying to bring his brother to Manchester City. "He isn't happy (with Barcelona)," the older Toure told the media. Shortly after, the younger Toure refuted any rumours. "I'm not going anywhere," he said.
Corrections and Clarifications
- A previous version of this story featured a photo of Seydou Keita, who was mis-identified as Yaya Toure. The current photo attached to this story is of Yaya Toure. CBCSports.ca regrets the error. May 19, 2010/3:18 pm ET