Frank Lampard has paid tribute to Yaya Toure, describing the outgoing Manchester City midfielder as one of the toughest opponents that he has ever faced.
Pep Guardiola confirmed last week that Yaya Toure is to leave the club this summer when his contract expires, ending his eight-year stay with the reigning Premier League champions.
Ahead of what is expected to be the Ivorian’s final match as a City player against Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday night, Lampard has talked up the impact made by Toure during his time in Manchester.
“I would put Yaya Toure in the top five of the toughest midfield opponents I faced in my career, and at his peak he could change games on his own,” he told BBC Sport. “Steven Gerrard probably edges it as the best I have played against, for his consistency over the years, but Yaya is up there along with Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Paul Scholes – which shows how highly I rate him.
“Every midfielder has different attributes but the best players are the ones you fear, and I certainly did that when I was up against Yaya. Even some of the very best play within themselves slightly, but he didn’t. He would hurt you by going forward and by scoring goals at the end of it, which is always a great trait that not many midfield players have.
“When I faced him, I knew he was very good on the ball and could pass it around me if he wanted to. He knew the moments to keep it simple and move the ball around. But if you got too close to him to try to stop him doing that, he also had that ability to drive through midfield and his physical power and pace – which was deceptive because of his big stride – made it so difficult to stay with him.”