Kolo Toure move a calculated gamble for Rodgers & Liverpool

The former Manchester City star's signing betrays the logic of the Reds' recent transfer strategy, but his experience and Premier League know-how could prove valuable at Anfield
By David Lynch

All talk of Liverpool's transfer plans these days must be caveated by references to the supposed policies of the club's owners, Fenway Sports Group. The Boston-based group only want young, low-waged players it is regularly alleged; only those who meet the limited criteria of a 'Moneyball' approach to recruitment will be signed.

But if that is truly the case, then it is rather difficult to see just where Kolo Toure fits in. The 32-year-old defender has signed a pre-contract agreement with the Merseyside club, it was announced on Tuesday, and will move to Anfield upon the expiry of his deal with Manchester City over the summer.

The Ivorian's age and reported wage of around £75,000 per week do not seem to meet any of the preconceived requirements of FSG, but rather hint at a pragmatism that was evident on the field toward the back-end of the 2012-13 season.


Toure is the transfer equivalent of Brendan Rodgers ditching all talk of tiki-taka from January onwards, and the Northern Irishman will certainly hope for similar results – the Reds lost just two of their last 16 Premier League games - from this about-turn.

But Liverpool should certainly be mindful of the reasons they are able to sign Toure, a player who joined City for £16 million four years ago, on a free transfer. This is not the centre-back who played a vital role in Arsenal's unbeaten run to the 2003-04 Premier League crown; his failure to regularly oust 20-year-old Matija Nastasic from first-team duties last season is evidence enough of that.

Toure's peak years are certainly behind him, as conveyed by the steady slide in his statistics over recent years. In the 2008-09 campaign, his last before a big-money departure from Arsenal, the Ivory Coast international boasted a tackle success rate of 77.78 percent and an aerial duel win rate of 44%, but those figures dropped to 73.68% and 40% respectively as he made just 10 starts last season.

That said, it must be noted that Liverpool's scouting team of Dave Fallows and Barry Hunter, who joined the club from Manchester City in October following a period of garderning leave, should know Toure's strengths and weaknesses inside out.

Fans can be confident that, if the 32-year-old has arrived on the strength of their recommendation, then it is one made on the back of first-hand experience.

It would also be impossible to imagine another similarly experienced Premier League defender is set to be available this summer on a free transfer. Not one who is three years younger than the retiring Jamie Carragher and comes for a lower wage packet, at the very least.

Toure's six-month ban for the use of what he insisted were "diet pills" and alleged forays into car sales are but background noise when these factors are considered. Rodgers' ability to improve players who have somewhat lost their way (see Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique) must also provide encouragement that the defender will not continue a steady decline as his career reaches its end.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos may well remain Liverpool's number one target in that area of the pitch, but Toure's experience and quality mark him out as a solid back-up option; something the Reds found themselves markedly short of during last season's disastrous cup runs.

Alternatively, Toure could prove to be highly-waged millstone, the sort that a club with Premier League title ambitions can happily discard to a 'lesser' rival having seen his best years. Rodgers will need to call on all his expertise as a coach to ensure that is not the case, or talk of Moneyball may be returning to Merseyside.

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