Because less players equal more space to pass and move

Manchester City need to win race for the next Toure

A driving force behind two Premier League title successes and the provider of two match-winning performances at the business end of a triumphant FA Cup run in 2010/11, Yaya Toure has – as much as anyone – been the man to help Manchester City deliver on their potential.

Having more money than you know what to do with is all well and good, but it needs to be spent wisely and in the right areas in order for a cohesive unit to be formed and for tangible rewards to be secured.

City, then, owe plenty to their Ivorian schemer, a man acquired from Barcelona with a reputation for being more of an enforcer and ball-winner but one who has been transformed into a buccaneering playmaker with a keen eye for goal and a penchant for delivering when it matters most.

After five productive years, though, with Toure at the heart of their side, it appears City may have got as much out of their £24million investment as they are going to get.

Now 32 years of age, they have benefited from a talismanic presence at his peak, with 221 appearances delivering 67 goals – including 24 in a memorable 2013/14 campaign which saw Toure become almost unplayable.

His powers were always going to wane at some stage, and his numbers halved last term as City offered a disjointed and largely forgettable defence of their English top-flight crown.

Their troubles in a trophyless campaign have, however, helped to highlight their flaws and draw attention to the need for an ageing squad to be refreshed and updated.

If the Blues are to make any kind of impact in Premier League betting markets next season, then they need to not only bridge the gap which separates them from 2015 runaway champions Chelsea, but also keep the rest of the chasing pack at arm’s length – with Arsenal and Manchester United expected to spend this summer and force their way back into contention for domestic supremacy.

City, then, must dig deep once more, and it appears as though they are already being heavily linked with a man capable of becoming their next lynchpin.

Deals for the likes of Raheem Sterling, if that ever comes off, and possibly Fabian Delph, will help the club to meet homegrown quotas while adding useful Premier League know-how to a squad that has reluctantly bid farewell to man for all occasions, James Milner.

It is, however, talk of a possible big-money move for Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba that should be getting City fans excited.

The France international will not come cheap, but at 22 years old – 10 years Toure’s junior – investment at this juncture could deliver long-term benefits, with City aware of the need to speculate to accumulate.

Pogba appears to possess all of the attributes required to be a Premier League star, while there is still enough potential and development left in him to become an even better player, and even more talismanic figure than Toure has been at the Etihad.

There is also the small matter of any deal rubbing salt into the wounds of neighbours Manchester United – a side already cursing their luck at having seen the talented youngster slip through their net after emerging through their academy ranks without seeing him pop up down the road.

City need to pull out all of the stops to make this transfer happen, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris St Germain still looming large in what promises to be a keenly-contested recruitment tussle.

Manuel Pellegrini needs an injection of youthful exuberance in his ranks, City need another dominant figure in the middle of the park, while all concerned need to make another statement of intent as the battle to be Premier League kings intensifies.