It has been confirmed in the official lists all clubs must submit to the FA that Kolo Toure will be released by Liverpool as his contract expires at the end of this month. It is expected he will continue his playing career elsewhere.
I have very mixed feelings about this. There is, of course, the constant need to bring on younger players and phase out the older ones, that’s the reality of football, and with Matip coming in and Gomez returning there will be the need to free up space. However, with Skrtel also expected to leave and Sakho’s future still not confirmed I can’t help feeling we could be at risk of lacking an old head at the back once Toure departs.
There’s also the question of whether Toure would have been good enough for one more season at Liverpool. I think it’s fair to say he and Daniel Sturridge were the only players who came away from the Europa League final with any real credit and if Toure can perform that well in a European final it’s likely he would still be able to perform as a support player in the squad one last time.
Some reporters are saying Toure was offered a coaching role (something I can’t confirm) but this was declined as the player was interested in playing on while he still could. I can believe the coaching staff would try to retain Toure in some capacity as his loss will be felt more acutely behind the scenes than on the pitch. If Liverpool are lacking one thing at the moment it’s big personalities and you can put as many skilled players on the pitch as you like but if you don’t have the personnel to keep the squad buoyant when things get tough at some point you will suffer.
Like Gary Mac before him some players come to the club during the twilight of their careers and have a disproportionately large impact in a fairly short period of time. Toure certainly did this, stepping in and steadying the ship at pivotal points. For that alone he deserves our thanks but he also managed it with a smile on his face. He will be missed – in the stands, in the dressing room and on the pitch – and it’s now up to Klopp to make sure the void is filled.