By Christian Evans.
Manchester City are reportedly close to agreeing a deal to sign Bournemouth star Nathan Ake. However, the story may not end there.
Ake has been repeatedly linked with a return to Chelsea, and also with a move to Manchester United in recent weeks, as well as City.
The Dutchman doesn’t appear to be in any rush to decide his next move, though, and could force a transfer tug of war this summer.
Pep Guardiola and Frank Lampard would certainly have use for Ake. Both teams have leaked goals all season and need reinforcements defensively if they’re to challenge Liverpool next season.
Should Bournemouth’s five-year stint in the Premier League end on Sunday, the question is simply where will Ake end up?
Why is there such interest in Ake?
Ake would likely command a fee of £35m should Bournemouth be relegated from the Premier League. That itself would likely be enticing for both the buying club and Bournemouth themselves.
Since Liverpool signed Virgil van Dijk in January 2017, prices for centre-backs have skyrocketed. Napoli are reportedly seeking £70m for Kalidou Koulibaly and Inter Milan want over £50m for Milan Skirinar. Although Ake isn’t on the same level as either of those two, he’d be much cheaper and has Premier League experience.
Ake would also qualify as a homegrown player for UEFA competitions as he joined Chelsea as a 16-year-old, and his versatility would also be useful for many teams.
Man City’s issues at left-back have been well documented. Benjamin Mendy has struggled for fitness, Angelino was loaned to RB Leipzig, and Oleksandr Zinchenko is a backup at best.
At Chelsea, Emerson Palmieri doesn’t appear to be in Lampard’s plans and the club lack depth behind Marcos Alonso.
The Dutchman is most effective in his natural centre-back position, but is capable of playing on the left when necessary.
City’s reported deal with Bournemouth is around £35m per the Guardian. Signing Ake would immediately bolster City’s defence. Guardiola realises he must add depth having failed to replace Vincent Kompany last summer. Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones have both failed to live up to expectations this season and Aymeric Laporte has struggled with injury.
Man City’s quest for a third successive Premier League title fell flat this season, largely due to problems at centre-back. Ake would likely solve that problem for Guardiola.
How likely are rival bids?
Chelsea retain a buy-back clause on the Dutchman having sold him to Bournemouth. Owner Roman Abramovich has already shown a willingness to spend having brought Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech to Stamford Bridge this summer.
Ake would also be significantly cheaper than fellow Chelsea target, Declan Rice.
Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has recently hinted at interest in the defender, joining the two clubs in the chase. Solskjaer will be looking to add to his defensive options with Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones expected to leave.