By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger missed out on signing Yaya Toure because of red tape.

The powerful midfielder had a trial with Arsenal as a youngster but he was not eligible for a work permit and had to return to Belgium, where he played for Beveren.

Toure - the younger brother of former Gunner Kolo - moved to Ukraine and went on to play for Olympiakos in Greece before joining Barcelona and winning a host of trophies, including the Champions League.

The 27-year-old swapped the Nou Camp for Manchester City last summer and is expected to line up against Arsenal on Wednesday night. Wenger knows that things could have been very different.

"I know him very well, since he was 15 years old, so I know him for a long time. He is a top-class talent," said Wenger.

"He was here as a young boy but we cannot get players in here if they are not internationals. He had no work permit and was too young. We tried to wait until when he was in Belgium, we tried to get him a European passport.

"He was not patient enough and left for Metalurh Donetsk, that is the club where he went.

"He has made a big impact - he is a top class player. He came out of a frustrating season at Barcelona because he didn’t play last season at all but the year before he played and was very influential.

"Last year he lost his position for Busquets and in midfield, he is the kind of player who needs to play, Yaya - we know him very well."

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4 Jan 2011