Arsenal should beat Chelsea to the punch by signing Bournemouth centre-back Nathan Ake to alleviate their defensive problems, according to Stewart Robson.
The 24-year-old left Stamford Bridge to join the Cherries 2016, initially on loan before signing permanently a year later.
Ake is currently sidelined by a hamstring injury and expected back in late January. In his absence, Bournemouth have conceded 11 times in six games (they had previously conceded 21 goals in 15 games) and have faced 26 shots on target. Matters at Dean Court are so dire they could find themselves in 19th by the end of gameweek 22.
Could Arsenal sign Nathan Ake? Five things to know…
- Arsenal have conceded 31 Premier League goals this season, the joint-most of any team in the top 10, and recently lost Calum Chambers to a season-ending injury.
- They are set to rival Chelsea to the January signing of Nathan Ake, according to the Telegraph.
- Chelsea are said to have a £40m buyback option in Ake’s Bournemouth contract that expires at the end of the January transfer window.
- This, it is claimed, means Bournemouth may be forced to listen to bids from elsewhere worth £45m.
- Statistically, Ake is a high performer within the Premier League by smarterscout‘s analysis.
Premium and Pro users of https://t.co/fof48gUVlq see these badges in searches and player profiles:
🔥 = high performer for user's benchmark league
⚠️ = low performer for user's benchmark league
🚀 = breakout season
💺 = underused/injured
🙇♂️ = young prospect
— smarterscout (@smarterscout) June 20, 2019
Ake finally ready for a big transfer move?
Former Arsenal Player of the Year Stewart Robson recently singled Ake out as Mikel Arteta’s kind of player during a radio appearance.
“I still think Nathan Ake is a good player. There’s talk about him going back to Chelsea because they can buy him for a certain price but he’s a very good centre-half,” Robson recently told Love Sport Radio.
“He’s not the biggest but he’s got good spring and I think he’s the type of player Arteta will like. He would be my choice coming in from Bournemouth.”
Sometimes a change of scenery is needed. And Ake, who has played more than 100 games for Bournemouth since 2017, might feel now is the time to make that next step.
It is a step he perhaps feels should have come much sooner. Having progressed through Chelsea’s esteemed youth set-up, many earmarked him to establish himself at the Blues. Those in power had other ideas, notably former boss Jose Mourinho, whom Ake previously accused of leaving him feeling “broken” at Stamford Bridge.
But it wasn’t all negative in west London. Chelsea legend John Terry took the Dutchman under his wing. And there is probably no better left-sided centre-back to learn from in Premier League history.
“[Terry] has always been there, helping and talking, since I was 17 and I first came into the team under Rafael Benitez,” Ake said in 2017, adding that the former Chelsea captain aided his development through “positioning and also just his character.”
It never worked out for him at Chelsea – though they are persistently linked with a bid to bring him back – but he was young then and, away from English football’s ‘Big Six’, he’s developed into a defender capable of fulfilling his primary function while also contributing to attacking play – in a manner stylistically comparable to Thiago Silva during the 2016/17 season, according to smarterscout’s ‘similar player search‘* tool.
Ake has played mostly as a left-sided centre-back in the Premier League this season (1,416 minutes) but has also spent 64 minutes in the left-back position and has 346 minutes of top-flight game time in the middle of a back three.
The Netherlands international rates highly in terms of attacking output and ball retention. In line with Robson’s argument, these are both features that should appeal to a coach like Arteta – especially if central defence now tops the list of positions in which Arsenal are looking to strengthen this January.
*This feature ‘uses a distance formula based exclusively on eight aspects of playing style: disrupting opposition moves, recovering a moving ball, aerial duels, passing toward goal, link-up passing, dribbling, receiving in the box, shooting. In the search results, the players are ranked so that the ones who have the most similar styles to the model player’s style come first.’