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The retirement of Jamie Carragher, the return of Danny Wilson to a Scottish club, the injury problems that had seen Daniel Agger appear in only one hundred and fifty-five Premier League matches since his arrival in early 2006 out of a maximum of two hundred and eighty-three by the end of the 2012/13 season, a serious injury to Martin Kelly, the indifferent form of Martin Skrtel, the general perception that neither Sebastian Coates nor Andre Wisdom were quite ready to play in a number of consecutive first-team matches: probably a mixture of all these factors forced Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers to act immediately once the final match of the 2012/13 season had taken place.
Rodgers did not need to look far. Just over thirty miles east in fact. To Manchester, where Kolo Touré’s four-year contract with Manchester City was about to come to an end, a successful spell that had seen him collect winners’ medals in both the Premier League and the FA Cup, having also achieved that with his previous club, Arsenal, where he had been a member of the Gunners’ “Invincibles” squad of 2003-04 and an FA Cup winner either side of that unbeaten League season, although he was actually only an unused substitute in the final against Southampton in 2003. The Ivorian passed his thirty-second birthday shortly before the end of his final season in Manchester. An accomplished defender at both club and international level (and with considerable experience gallivanting as a car salesman) Touré seems to be an ideal addition to Liverpool’s squad because he already has eleven years experience of the Premier League behind him. While players come and go at all clubs, Touré has already faced most of the men he is likely to encounter at club level; and that should work in his favour as he prepares to play for his third English club. He is very vocal on the pitch and a good organiser of the defence, sorely needed after Carragher's retirement.
After a few barren years in the 1990s, Arsenal had got used to winning prizes again by the time Touré arrived in England in February, 2002. He settled quickly into English life and averaged thirty Premier League matches a season during his seven years in north London. Following his transfer to Manchester City, he became more of a squad-player than a regular in the team and this meant that he only appeared in fourteen League matches as City won the English championship in 2012 for the first time in forty-four years.
Touré first played for his country, the Ivory Coast, in the year 2000, appeared in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups in Germany and South Africa and has also been a stand-out player in the Africa Cup of Nations, a competition in which he has suffered huge disappointments after his country lost two finals on penalties, in 2006 to Egypt and in 2012 to Zambia.
This is not a long-term solution to Liverpool’s central defensive problems. It is the signing of a free agent who has already played in over three hundred English Premier League matches. On the face of it, it looks to be a very shrewd piece of business indeed, the acquisition of a man who is vastly experienced and hungry for more success before his playing days come to an end.
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