The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 5 , 2014
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Racism debate fuelled by Nasri

London: Sami Nasri believes Yaya Toure is shockingly underrated outside Manchester City and that because he is African he is not given the acclaim he deserves.

Nasri described his teammate as the world’s best midfielder after his stunning chip into the top corner turned the League Cup final against Sunderland. But the Frenchman is convinced Toure is always ignored in the global player-of-the-year awards because he is from the Ivory Coast rather than a more-established football nation.

Nasri, who scored City’s second goal in the 3-1 win at Wembley on Sunday, argued that Toure would be hailed as one of the game’s greats if he was from South America.

“If he wasn’t African everyone would say he’s the best midfielder in the world,” Nasri said after winning his first English cup final after defeats by Birmingham in the League Cup, when he was at Arsenal, and by Wigan in last season’s FA Cup final.

“He can do everything, he can score goals, he can defend, he can attack.

“When he gets the ball he is so powerful. You should just admire the way he plays because he’s a great player.

“I might be a bit biased because he’s my friend, but for me he’s in the top three midfielders in the world.

“Of course it counts against him being from Ivory Coast. If he was Argentinean or Brazilian everyone would talk about him, everyone. You have some Brazilians or Argentineans, I don’t want to say anything wrong, but just because they are from this country you pay 40million or 50million for them.

“A guy like Yaya, he’s won every trophy, he is always there. Tell me one defensive midfielder who can go forward like him who can score 16 or 17 goals in a season?”

A recent vote by Barcelona fans said that Toure was the former player they would most like to re-sign and City have never underestimated his value to them.

It was only when Toure moved up a gear in Sunday’s game that Sunderland began to struggle in the second half and his goal was a game-changing moment of the highest quality.

Having secured the first trophy of manager Manuel Pellegrini’s reign by beating a spirited, but limited Sunderland, Nasri believes more silverware will follow this season as they look to hunt down Chelsea at the top of the Premier League and take revenge on Wigan in the FA Cup at the weekend.

“It was the case since the start of the season, we have this fire, we have so much quality,” he said.

“Any time we can score goals, we can make the difference and it was important to show everyone how good we are and how strong we are mentally and never give up.”