By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger always knew Yaya Toure would develop into a top-class player - even though he was decidedly average on his solitary Arsenal appearance.

The younger brother of former Gunner Kolo impressed during a trial with the Club in 2003 and was close to signing before growing impatient while he waited for a work permit.

Toure opted for a move to Metalurh Donetsk in Ukraine and went on to win the Champions League with Barcelona before being reunited with Kolo at Manchester City.

The brothers could both face Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday and ahead of the match Wenger reflected on Yaya's brief spell in north London - including that pre-season appearance at Barnet.

"I have known him since he was 15," said the Frenchman. "We had an agreement with him to come here but the problem was that he was at Beveren and we had to wait long enough for a European passport. Therefore he was impatient and went, at the time, to Metalurh Donetsk.

"It was quite interesting because his generation played for two or three years at Beveren - Yaya Toure, Eboue, Gervinho for example played there as well. They didn't have one offer for all of these players and they played in the Belgian championship in the top league.

"All of the players have made big careers, for example, [Siaka] Tiene plays left-back for Paris Saint-Germain. But in two years there was not one offer for one player, basically because they were young and it is always difficult to make these kinds of decisions.

"At the time Yaya went to Metlurh Dontesk and now he is a top-class player. We knew that at the time he would be a top-class player but the only problem with Yaya was to fix him into a position because he can play everywhere.

"He can play centre-back, as a second striker, as a midfielder and for a long time we didn't know where to play him. Incidentally he played in a pre-season game at Barnet [on July 19, 2003] as a second striker - and he was completely average on the day!"

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16 Dec 2011