Arsenal, Chelsea and City are experiencing defensive issues. Arsenal have always experience defensive issues to be fair. The Blues’ combination of Christensen and Zouma was a disaster in a humiliating defeat at Goodison Park. Though Fikayo Tomori was rested, so it’s not exactly a crisis as such. The Citizens on the other hand, wow. They have been shambolic at the back, with Kompany’s departure and Laporte’s injury leaving their back line in chaos. So who could be the solution to both teams’ defensive woes? Nathan Ake.
According to The Metro, it’s Arsenal and Chelsea who are to battle for Ake, who will cost around £40m.
The 24 year old has been quietly going about his business at Bournemouth. After loan spells at Reading, Watford and the Cherries, he settled on the south coast, moving from Chelsea for a £20 million fee. Since then, he’s only developed further and become a consistent performer for Eddie Howe’s side. Not box office, in the headlines or a name on everyone’s lips. But if a defender isn’t being spoken about, it’s usually a good sign.
Back to London, or Manchester?
Chelsea weren’t stupid to allow a talented defender like the Dutchman leave for a modest fee without a buyback clause. With their transfer ban now lifted, £40 million and he’s theirs. A reasonable fee in today’s market. Frank Lampard obviously knew the Chelsea youth product from his time as a player. That could play a major role in swaying the decision towards London.
Yet could the Etihad tempt Ake? The chance to work under Pep Guardiola doesn’t come everyday. Though 2019/20 hasn’t been good for City so far, they might just be putting everything into a Champions League campaign. If so, it wouldn’t make sense to turn that down? First team football, however, could be an issue when Laporte is back. Short term thinking may come back to bite the former Watford loanee.
Nathan Ake – Style of Play
In terms of his qualities, the 5ft 11 defender isn’t the tallest. However, he’s incredibly versatile, able to play in defensive midfield, at fullback or in central defence. Options, something Guardiola could really do with. He’s good on the ball, maintaining an 89.6% pass accuracy this season. Ball playing centre-halves are almost essential in 2019 and Nathan Ake is certainly the template for one.
Defensively, his numbers on paper are decent. 1.2 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game are very tidy. It’s not exceptional by any means. But sometimes it’s quality over quantity. As shown in the video above, the tackles he makes are game winning and bail Bournemouth out of trouble multiple times.
He’s also great in the air, with his ability to outmanoeuvre and out-jump his opponents making up for the lack of height. Ake also brings a calmness to back line, never seeming like he’s under pressure or looking like he’s going to make a mistake. Can’t say the same for Kurt Zouma or Nicolas Otamendi or anyone in the Arsenal defence for that matter!
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