When Kolo Touré signed for Liverpool on a free transfer last summer, fans were instantaneously taken with the Ivorian. Seemingly laid back, carefree, and not at all worried about how much playing time he'd get, Touré had an ideal character for a fourth-choice centre back. Despite Trabzonspor's attempts to lure Touré to Turkey this summer, the defender decided to stick with Liverpool.
"I have one more year on my contract here and this is a great club," Touré explained. "As a player, you want to play for great clubs. The time I've spent at Liverpool already has been amazing for me. We had a great season and I've had a great time. You always want to be part of a great team and I hope this will be another great season for Liverpool Football Club."
"There are so many games this season with the four competitions that the manager needs depth. I am sure everyone will get chances at some point. The most important thing for me is what's best for the team, it's not about individuals. I'm part of a great project here and I will do my best every time I play."
Brendan Rodgers is hoping to build on the success the team found last season when they finished runners-up in the league, and the small squadron of players he's brought in to supplement the existing team is designed to do just that. Amongst the new players is Touré's past and current teammate Mario Balotelli, whom the Touré played with at Manchester City. Few in the squad will know better than Touré how Balotelli's personal growth has come along since the two played together several seasons ago.
"He's more mature now," Touré confirmed. "You can see that with his behaviour on the pitch - chasing the ball and fighting for the team. Mario is a great player and we're all happy to have him here. He can help make the difference this season in a team with many great young players.
"I think some people have got the wrong idea about Mario. At City, he was young. And when you are young, you make some mistakes. Everyone does. He had a hard childhood but now he's more mature. He knows what he's doing. He knows he needs to work hard. For me he's always been a good boy but now I think he's more mature, more intelligent. He loves football and we are really happy to have him. With experience you become better. That's what we'll see from Mario."
Everyone knows that if you say something three times that means it's true, so if Kolo Touré says Mario Balotelli is now mature, mature, mature, there's little reason to doubt him.