Saturday 21 October 2017

Toure aiming to fill 'great' Carragher's boots for Reds

Ivorian defender keen to prove his worth after frustration of 'part-time' City spell

Kolo Toure
Kolo Toure

Jamie Holland

New Liverpool defender Kolo Toure is looking forward to becoming a full-time footballer again after two years of limited action.

The Ivory Coast international played just 29 league matches in the last two campaigns under Roberto Mancini at Manchester City and views his move to Anfield as the chance to make up for lost time.

"Liverpool have given me the chance to show that at 32 I'm still one of the best defenders, and I will fight for that," said the centre-back, who has officially signed for the Reds after his contract expired with the former Premier League champions.

"These past two years of being 'part-time' have helped me refresh and be more hungry. I want to try and help Liverpool win trophies this season."

OPTION

Toure leaves brother Yaya behind at the Etihad Stadium but he knew it was not an option for him to remain at the club.

"I haven't spoken to him yet really because he's been on holiday, but he's going to be on his own there now," he added.

"I wish him the best but I knew I had to leave City. I've come next door and that's a great move for me."

Toure is seen by manager Brendan Rodgers as a short-term replacement for the retired Jamie Carragher.

He certainly has a wealth of Premier League experience, having played for Arsenal before his switch to City, but with Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel still at the club he knows he will have to fight for his place.

"I am used to competition. When I came into Arsenal the competition was Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Tony Adams – it was hard competition," Toure said.

"The only way to improve a team is to make players fight for their place. I know Jamie Carragher left the club and that's the reason why I'm here. He was massive for this club, he was a great professional and a great example for me. I will try to do what he did but I think that's going to be really difficult.

"It adds pressure because it's always hard to replace a big, big player like Jamie.

"I'm looking forward to that because I like challenges. I like to lead when I'm on the pitch, I like to speak to the players and organise things."

Toure joined his new team-mates and fellow new arrivals Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Simon Mignolet for the first day of pre-season at the club's Melwood training ground before formally signing his contract.

"It's like coming to a new school," he said. "But as soon as I came, Steven Gerrard came up to me and told me that if I needed anything, I could come to see him – that shows the spirit and mentality of this club.

"The manager welcomed me when I came, and all the players as well. It's really important to be part of a team that has spirit and togetherness and that's what I see here. For a first day, I'm really happy."

The only absentees were those players who have had international duty this summer.

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, club and national team-mate Sebastian Coates, and Spain goalkeeper Jose Reina have all been at the Confederations Cup in Brazil and so have been given an extended break.

Suarez's future remains in doubt, however, after a series of interviews while back in South America in which the 26-year-old expressed his dislike of the British press and admitted a move to Real Madrid would appeal. Also absent were England youngsters Conor Coady and Jon Flanagan and Spaniard Suso, who have all been involved in the U-20s World Cup in Turkey.

Some of the injured players, including the likes of Raheem Sterling, Joe Allen, Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge have done some pre-preparation work at Melwood in the last week or so to help them get back up to speed.

Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has also rejoined his team-mates despite speculation about his future increasing.

The 21-year-old has been linked with Norwich, Crystal Palace, West Ham and Swansea.

Swans chairman Huw Jenkins claims he has already opened discussions with the Reds about the midfielder.

Irish Independent

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