Liverpool's pre-season fixtures are no more. While some players in the squad are likely to leave, there will be others sticking around who will play important roles as members of the squad. These roles can range from shoring up the midfield to providing attacking impetus from the bench in times of need. Kolo Touré, however, has a unique spot in the squad.
As Brendan Rodgers appears to see Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren primarily as left-sided centre backs, Touré is next in line whenever Martin Škrtel is unavailable. History has shown that this most likely won't be a regular occurrence, but the Slovakia national team captain turns 31 in December. That's not particularly old for a centre back, as Liverpool's genial Ivorian will tell all who would listen, but it wouldn't hurt to ensure that a player who is central to Rodgers' plans avoids unnecessary burnout.
Then there's the experience that the former Arsenal and Manchester City defender provides in a squad that is still lacking in that area. With the departure of the legendary Steven Gerrard and the fitful Glen Johnson, one of the more prudent moves has been to keep the affable 34-year-old for a third season on Merseyside. Yes, Touré isn't what he used to be and can be prone to a comical moment, but he is the squad's sagest head now. Probably the best defensive organiser too so it's heart-warming to know how much he wanted to stay.
"Honestly, in the end the decision was really simple," Touré said with his customary awesomeness. "There were other offers but I couldn't leave one of the best clubs in the world. For me, to be able to be at Liverpool - playing for this manager and being part of this squad and playing for amazing fans - is massive. I really enjoy being here. I feel loved and that's important. I am so lucky to be at a club like this and I want to help this club to get better."
Maturity and experience are key here. The man from Bouaké with over a century of international caps for his country knows the game and is realistic. He is here to help, guide, and step in when required. That's not to say that the Ivorian won't fiercely compete for a starting spot, but with Joe Gomez and possibly Tiago Ilori around, there are fledglings in need of comfort that Koalas won't get from our Kolo.
"I know I have a role to play in helping the younger players," he said. "I have a lot of experience but I'm not here just for that.I want to play football. And I'll fight and give 100% every single day to show to the manager that I'm able to play. That's what everyone has to do. We have two or three players for every position now. If someone is not fit then we've got someone ready to come in and play. You need that competition."
With some of the young defenders on Liverpool's books, this should be Kolo Touré's last season at the club. He's conducted himself impeccably and been a good influence in the dressing room from what one can discern from afar. There is still a crucial season of football ahead, and it appears that Touré understands exactly what is expected of him. Liverpool fans will be looking for leadership and solidity whenever this wise head takes to the field.