Leyton Orient manager Ross Embleton admits to having considered talk of Yaya Toure joining his ranks to be a “wind-up”, but the Manchester City legend is training with the League Two club and may yet to be talked into a stunning deal.
At 37 years of age, the iconic Ivorian midfielder is winding down on an illustrious career.
He is not ready to hang up his boots just yet, though, and having already represented Monaco, Barcelona and City among others, is looking to take on one more challenge.
The fourth tier of English football is not where many would have expected him to end up, but Toure is looking to work on his fitness with Orient.
Embleton is delighted to have the Liga, Premier League and Africa Cup of Nations winner on his books, even if he is pinching himself at such a remarkable turn of events.
On how Toure ended up in east London, Embleton told talkSPORT: “We received an email from who we thought or was told was Yaya Toure’s agent. You can imagine my reaction was: ‘Yeah, course it is’.
“I said to the chief executive, ‘give me the email address, I’ll get in touch and call his bluff’, because I thought it was a wind-up. It took a day or two to get a response, so then, straight away, I just thought it was a wind-up.
“Then the guy came back to me and said, ‘[I’m] really sorry, I’m in Singapore and the time delay means I’m not able to reply to you straight away’. We had a bit of coming and going over a couple of days and then he said that he’d give me someone in the UK to deal with to get the process rolling.
“Quickly, within two or three days, I started to get an idea that Yaya Toure was coming to Chigwell to train with Leyton Orient and it happened.”
The big question now is, how long will Toure stick around?
Embleton concedes that a modern day great is unlikely to form part of his plans for 2020-21, but nothing is being ruled out at this stage.
“I think there’s a chance you might see him walking out at the Breyer Group Stadium because we’re playing an internal game next weekend,” the Orient boss added.
“It will be our first pre-season friendly and we wanted to try and be creative, so we’re doing it internally. So, there’s every chance he could walk out at the Breyer Group Stadium, as we’ll try and get him to play in that.
“I think it’s highly unlikely [that he’ll sign a contract]. The initial conversations I’ve had with him are about him coming in and doing a couple of weeks, but that’s as loose as it’s been. So could be longer, could be shorter. If we impress him, who knows where it leads to.”