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Yaya: We can be as good as Barca

Shortly before half-past one on Sunday, the television cameras in the Old Trafford tunnel picked out the big beasts, all caged together ahead of the 161st Manchester derby between the two best teams and most powerful clubs in the country.

 

The likes of Wayne Rooney and Vincent Kompany were slapping backs, chomping on gum or simply staring ahead with pure concentration.

 

Then the screen was momentarily filled with the ultimate heavyweight, Yaya Toure, who even at this exalted level of superstardom can look down on his peers in more ways than one.

 

In terms of size (6ft 4in and 14st), money (£240,000 a week) and experience (ex-Barcelona), Yaya is the biggest beast of them all.

 

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After their 6-1 demolition of Utd on their home turf, City have gone five points clear and become favourites to win the Premier League for the first time in their history.

 

‘We wanted to win it for our fans,' said the 28-year-old, whose journey from poverty in west Africa - he did not wear his first pair of football boots until he was 10 - to the Nou Camp and now super rich City would make a decent feel good Hollywood movie.

 

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He has altered the course of Manchester football history once before. His FA Cup semi-final winner against United at Wembley in April saved Roberto Mancini's job and enabled City to go on to win their first trophy for 35 years, thereby announcing themselves as serious threats to United domination of English football.

 

 

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'The goal against United at Wembley was the highlight of my career but now we face a new challenge to stay at the top,' he said.

 

'We have an even better team now. Samir Nasri has joined us, Sergio Aguero has joined us. We can compete in any competition.

 

'When I signed I was told it was a story waiting to be written, and that's what it feels like. But we know United are one of the best teams around, particularly at home.

 

'And we'll need to play with all our determination to beat them. That would be amazing.'

 

When City's Abu Dhabi owners bought the club in 2008 and started splashing out unprecedented sums on 'the project' - £400million in transfer fees alone - their aim was two-fold; to win trophies and to win the hearts and minds of fans around the world, with a brand of fantasy football made popular by Barcelona.

 

 

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Yaya knows all about the exacting The Beast is raring to We'll prove we can be just as good as Barca, insists Yaya standards at Barca, having shared a dressing room with Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Messi.

 

But encouragingly for City fans, he does not regret leaving the Nou Camp and does not think his new club are deluded in trying to reach the standards set in Catalonia.

 

'Barcelona are an unbelievable club, everybody wants to play for them,' he said. 'But I made the right decision to come to City. This club have fantastic ambition, just look at the players here.

 

'We have some of the top players in the world and in the next few years I think you will see us win trophies like Barcelona.

 

'Nasri, Aguero, Silva are not just great players, they are exciting to watch, too.

 

'If they stay with us for a long time, the people will love City.'

 

 

On the theme of exciting players, Mancini has likened Yaya to Ruud Gullit.

 

'Oh, I'm very happy to hear people talking about me in that way,' said Yaya, genuinely taken aback by the compliment from his boss.

 

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'Gullit was such a fantastic player. Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten.

 

'I know Rijkaard because he was my manager at Barcelona but I'd like to meet Gullit one day. It's great to meet big guys like that.'