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Talking Tactics

New signings: Ake will balance out Man City defence

Adrian Clarke 29 Aug 2020
Nathan Ake, Man City

Adrian Clarke says former AFC Bournemouth defender offers a calm temperament and composure playing out from the back

Adrian Clarke assesses players who have changed clubs this summer and can make an impact in 2020/21.

Nathan Ake (MCI)

Quality left-footed central defenders are key for a balanced defence, so it is easy to see why Pep Guardiola invested in Ake.

The Dutchman performed to a consistently high level during his three-and-a-half seasons at AFC Bournemouth and, at 25 years old, he looks ready to make the step up.

Ake is cool headed and extremely confident bringing the ball out from defence. 

Indeed, his 87.61 per cent passing accuracy with the Cherries in 2019/20 match Guardiola's high expectations in that area.

Ake's excellent left foot is tailor-made for the way Manchester City build attacks from deep.

However, while he could play alongside Aymeric Laporte, Ake is likely to start 2020/21 as back up to the Frenchman.

Keeping it calm

Laporte is the most reliable member of Guardiola's back four and will surely again be one of the first names on his teamsheet.

Ake is not quite at Laporte's level yet but is still a very neat and tidy centre-back in his own right.

He will add natural mobility, excellent pace on the cover and a calm temperament.

The ex-Chelsea youngster was forced to do plenty of defending for AFC Bournemouth last term but made only nine fouls in the entire campaign.

That total is the joint-lowest registered by any Premier League defender to have made 20 appearances or more in 2019/20.

In testing situations the Man City recruit is unflappable in his decision-making.

Ake v Laporte
2019/20 Ake Laporte
Fouls conceded/90 0.32 0.73
Clearances/90 5.28 2.12
Blocks/90 1.04 0.41
Headed shots/90 0.43 0.08

Standing at 5ft 11in, Ake still poses a genuine threat from set-pieces; he has a terrific leap and shows intelligent movement. It has resulted in 12 Premier League goals so far.

Averaging 0.9 shots per 90 minutes, he is statistically one of the most dangerous top-flight defenders inside the opposition box.

Everton's Yerry Mina (averaging 1.14 shots/90), Newcastle United's Fabian Schar (1.1) and Craig Dawson of Watford (0.99), were the only regular centre-backs to shoot more often than Ake during 2019/20.

When he starts, Man City are sure to try and utilise this strength.

Tackle success rate comparison
2019/20 Tackle success %
Fernandinho 70.0
Nathan Ake* 67.7
John Stones 62.5
Nicolas Otamendi 50.0
Aymeric Laporte 46.2
Eric Garcia 16.7

*With AFC Bournemouth

Ready for the challenge

Such is their dominance in possession, Guardiola's side do not have to spend a great deal of time withstanding pressure from the opposition.

Their defenders are instead tested more often by turnovers and counter-attacks.

This should suit Ake, who is comfortable dealing with 1v1 situations. He is quick and times his tackles very well.

In that department he has a significantly better success rate than the majority of Man City's other centre-backs.

Making this transfer a success will be a real challenge for Ake, but there is no question he is ready.

Also in this series

Part 1: World-class Ziyech can do the spectacular
Part 2: Lallana offers Brighton a cutting edge
Part 3: Hojbjerg can tighten up Spurs' midfield
Part 4: Salisu adds resilience to Saints rearguard
Part 6: Thiago Silva well suited to Lampard's style
Part 7: Willian will add creative flair to Arsenal
Part 8: Eze can make Palace an attacking force
Part 9: Intelligent Rodrigo a natural fit for Leeds

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