A notable component in Brendan Rodgers’ 2013/14 side that so nearly won the Premier League title and during Jürgen Klopp’s first months in charge, Kolo Touré represented an intriguing figure in a swiftly changing squad.
Capped 108 times by Côte d’Ivoire between 2000 and 2014, he also has one of the best songs going.
Older brother to Yaya, who features within said tune, Touré joined the club on a free transfer from Manchester City – where his sibling remained – on July 2, 2013.
32 at that time, he came across as a welcome, well-considered addition of experience to a defence that Jamie Carragher had retired from less than two months earlier.
Having already won the Premier League title with both City (2012) and previous club Arsenal (2002, 2004), he very nearly collected it for a fourth time with a third team in his debut campaign on Merseyside.
He debuted on August 17 in the 1-0 opening day home win over Stoke City and would start 11 of the Reds’ first 15 games of the season in all competitions.
There was another consistent run in the side in early 2014, but a couple of unfortunately high-profile errors – a stray pass that teed up Victor Anichebe’s equaliser for West Brom in a 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns on February 2 and a sliced attempted clearance into his own net that opened the scoring for Fulham in Liverpool’s 3-2 victory at Craven Cottage 10 days later – likely contributed to the No.4 not starting another game in the 2013/14 run-in.
At this stage, Touré would, at times, appear to be spreading more uncertainty around the backline than the assurance that would normally be expected from a player of his experience. Although this was not, admittedly, a team built on immense defensive solidity.
After Rodgers’ side agonisingly missed out on the title but still finished in an impressive second place, a move to Turkish outfit Trabzonspor looked to be on the cards for the centre-back that summer. He stayed, though, and aimed to fight for his place within a team that would be playing Champions League football in 2014/15.
As it turned out, Touré would start within a controversially rotated Liverpool XI at the Bernabéu, in a 1-0 group stage defeat to holders Real Madrid.
Those unusual circumstances were reflective of an inconsistent, dysfunctional autumn for the Reds, as Daniel Sturridge’s almost five-month injury absence added to the challenges posed by Luis Suárez’s summer move to Barcelona – and the largely ineffective recruitment that followed.
Liverpool dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group behind Real and Basel. Besiktas would knock them out of that competition in the first knockout round in late February, but at least the Merseysiders’ league form was largely on the up by then.
A switch to a back three paid dividends as the likes of Emre Can, Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling increasingly came to the fore.
Opportunities remained patchy for Touré, however. He made 21 appearances across all competitions in this campaign, compared with 24 in 2013/14.
Liverpool finished a disappointing sixth in the league and rounded off 2014/15 with that 6-1 hammering at Stoke. Less than two months into 2015/16, Rodgers was relieved of his duties and Klopp took his place.
Having signed a one-year contract extension in the summer of 2015, Touré made good use of his third and final term at Anfield.
He would make 26 appearances across all competitions – making it his busiest season at the club on that front – with his most consistent spells in the side coming in early 2016 and the final matches of the Premier League and Europa League campaign.
The highlight of that first spell of games was his first and only goal for the club, which came in the 6-0 win at Aston Villa on February 14 when he headed home Jordan Henderson’s corner.
Touré did seem to grow in stature and confidence during his brief time under Klopp’s stewardship and that was most clearly reflected in how he filled in capably for Mamadou Sakho during the final weeks of the season.
After forming an increasingly settled partnership with Dejan Lovren, the French defender was suspended by UEFA in April 2016 for failing a drugs test.
That is a decision that has since been shown to have been incorrect, however, as the relevant substance was not actually on the banned list.
Sakho, within the last year, has received substantial damages from the World Anti-Doping Agency for a suspension that, ultimately, cost him both the opportunity to play in a Europa League semi-final and final and at Euro 2016 with host nation France.
In his absence, Touré and Lovren put in a particularly effective display at the heart of the defence in the 3-0 semi-final second-leg victory over Villarreal.
While it was a defence that may have been thoroughly overwhelmed in the second half of the 3-1 final defeat to Sevilla in Basel, the Ivorian still largely ended his Reds’ career on a high, given how he slotted into an increasingly coherent side.
He rejoined Rodgers at Celtic following his Anfield exit, and the fact that he has remained at the Northern Irishman’s side since – now in a coaching role at Leicester City – is reflective of the depth of knowledge he possesses and the positive dressing room presence that he offers.
An infectious smile, a warm personality and someone who brings that brilliant song with him. On top of all that, though, Kolo Touré remains a valuable, thoughtful footballing presence.
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