Yaya Toure vs Paul Pogba: Who was better in their prime?

Jack Gallagher
Image by Matthew Burt
Image by Matthew Burt /

Plenty of incredible footballers have plied their trade at either Old Trafford or the Etihad Stadium over the years.

Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Paul Scholes, Vincent Kompany. The list goes on, and on, and on.

Somewhere on that list would be Paul Pogba and Yaya Toure.

The dynamic midfielders are two of the most naturally gifted players to play in Manchester during the Premier League years. And while one has flattered to deceive at times (no points for guessing which), no-one can deny the talent they both possess.

But who, at their very, very best, was better?

That's the question we at 90min hope to answer during this week's episode of Rivals.

1. Box-to-box midfielder

Pogba gets stuck in when he needs to
Pogba gets stuck in when he needs to /

We'll get the most difficult category out of the way first, shall we?

This is a tricky one...

Both were - are in Pogba's case - more than capable of playing the role, but Pogba just about gets the nod.

Toure and Pogba are both incredible going forward, but to be a true box-to-box midfielder you need to get through a fair amount of work at the other end of the pitch too; and Pogba does exactly that.

Comparing their Premier League defensive stats, Pogba's defensive superiority is pretty clear to see.

The French international has averaged 1.1 recoveries per game more than Toure during his Premier League career, has averaged 2.8 recoveries per game more, and has even won 86 more aerial battles despite playing 79 fewer PL games.

The stats don't lie.

Winner: Pogba

2. Premier League record

Toure won 3 PL titles
Toure won 3 PL titles /

Right, the difficult one is out of the way, let's get to the easiest one as a treat.

Obviously this is Yaya Toure's category.

The towering ex-Man City midfielder got his hands on three Premier League titles during his time in the north west.

Pogba has got his hands on zero Premier League titles.

Winner: Toure

3. Passing

Pogba is a brilliant passer of the ball
Pogba is a brilliant passer of the ball /

Toure and Pogba were/are known for their ability to progress the ball up the pitch - be it storming forward with it in their possession, or pinging it 40 yards up to a striker with pinpoint accuracy.

You'd associate the latter a bit more with Pogba though, and that's why he takes this category.

Sure, Toure averaged more passes per game than Pogba has in the Premier League, but the Frenchman has assisted more goals than Toure did during his career in England already; despite (as you already know) playing 79 fewer games than the Ivorian.

Winner: Pogba

4. Goalscoring

Toure scored goals for fun
Toure scored goals for fun /

Look, Pogba has scored some absolutely outrageous goals throughout his career - the thunderous strike for Juventus vs Udinese being a personal favourite - but Toure scored 20 goals in a single Premier League season in 2013/14.

20 goals from midfield in a single season.

That's obscene.

And for that reason, Toure wins this one.

Winner: Toure

5. Results

Toure earned the majority of your votes
Toure earned the majority of your votes /

After splitting the categories, we at 90min asked the public to help decide which of these two footballing Goliaths was better in their prime.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his trophy success with Manchester City, Toure earned 77% of the public vote, overwhelmingly beating Pogba who snared just 23% of your backing.

One of the great midfielders of the Premier League era, Toure is a worthy, worthy winner.

Winner: Toure