Farewell, Kolo, and cheers...

by STUART WATSON So it’s almost time for us to bid farewell to Kolo Toure, as Manchester City write out their second cheque to Arsenal inside a week as the Gunners collect a near on £16million pound profit for one of their most loyal players.
Toure, 28, teams up with recent departure Emmanuel Adebayor at Eastlands as they look to nudge Arsenal out of the top four.
It also means the last remaining playing side link to the “Invincibles” of 2004 has departed the club.
Toure was signed from little known Ivorian club ASEC Mimoas for a paltry £150,000 in February 2002, but did not play any part in the Gunners charge towards the double that season.
His full debut was made at the Community Shield at the Millennium Stadium v Liverpool in the August of that year and scored his first goal away at Chelsea in the following month.
Toure was initially used as a utility player mainly in midfield but it wouldn’t be long before he struck up a partnership with Sol Campbell at the heart of the Arsenal defence as the Gunners strolled towards the title, culminating with the team winning the league at White Hart Lane.
Toure’s pace and enthusiasm caused problems for Premiership strikers all over the land, and also caused problems for opposing defences with his runs from set pieces.
By the time Arsenal left Highbury in 2006, Toure had established himself as one of the best defenders in Europe. His goal verses Villarreal sent Arsenal into their first European Cup final, and gave Toure a record of his own as he became the last player to ever score in a European fixture at Highbury.
As Arsenal moved to the Emirates stadium, Toure found himself with a new partner in defence. William Gallas crossed London from Chelsea as Arsene Wenger looked to replace the departing Sol Campbell.
Whilst Toure and Gallas performed gallantly on the pitch, off it things weren’t all rosy. Gallas’s temperament and lack of leadership skills shown at Birmingham in February 2008 and then a public slagging of his teammates later that year seemed to be the last straw for Toure, who handed in a written transfer request in January 2009 which was turned down by the club.
This however alerted other major clubs that the star could be temped away from North London and it now seems that £16 million has finally seen Wenger give him the green light for him to go.
Whilst it will be sad to see Toure leave, £16 million for a 28-year old defender, that we paid peanuts for will be seen as good business. Wenger will again be praised for unearthing young talent, getting the best years out of them before selling them on at a huge profit.
What Wenger must do though is spend the money that we have been given for both Toure and Adebayor. The board have consistently said that there is money there for him to spend and this was before a £41million cheque arrived from Manchester.
Hopefully Toure will be given a rapturous welcome from the home fans when Manchester City visit in April. Somehow I doubt the reception will be the same for a certain Mr Adebayor.

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