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Nathan Ake: The Next KDB or Salah on Chelsea's List?

Chelsea doesn't have the fondest of memories regarding letting their young players go without considering their talent. Kevin Debru...


Chelsea doesn't have the fondest of memories regarding letting their young players go without considering their talent. Kevin Debruyne and Mohammed Salah will haunt them for quite some time for sure. Is Nathan Ake going to be the next one on that list? It is almost certain the Dutch defender will end up at one of the top clubs in Europe should the blues let him go. Rumours are, Arsenal, City and Spurs have already shown interest. Keeping the past memories aside, what exactly are his qualities making some of these heads turn? Wil those attributes help Frank and his team? Can he fill those big gaps in the Chelsea defensive line?

Defensive issues have been the biggest of headaches for Chelsea since the start of the season. We have the luxury of the weakest defence in the top 6. We are just one goal short of Brighton in the 15th place. We have suffered from tactical errors, lack of discipline, individual mistakes, lack of cover from the midfield line, you name it. We are among the top 2 in the percentage of goals conceded per set piece. So it's obvious that a single player is not going to solve all the issues over a fortnight. But a commanding centre back who can lead the defensive line and organise his fellow defenders will help to a good extent.

So is Nathan Ake the one? The 25-year-old current Bournemouth player definitely possesses some of the attributes for that role. He is one of those guys who can change the structure and mentality of an entire backline. Watch Eddie Howe and co playing with and without the Dutchman and you will totally understand why. He is one of those modern-day defenders who is pretty comfortable on the ball, doesn't fly into tackles all over the pitch, waits for his moment and then act. Kind of like his giant colleague, Virgil van Dijk, yeah.

The best thing about Nathan Ake is that he rarely puts in a wrong foot. We rarely see direct mistakes from him. He reads the game pretty well, positions himself nicely and almost always makes the right decision. He has played at CB, LB, CDM and even LWB, but never looked out of place. He knows his way around a football pitch. He is comfortable defending deep, playing a high line, forced out wide - versatility has never been an issue for him. He is so effective in corners and set pieces on both ends, thanks to his footballing brain rather than physical presence. We all saw how he dominated Olivier Giroud in that last Bournemouth game. His pace and athleticism make him good at recoveries and chasing back, which he will have to do a lot should he come to the bridge.

Comparing with our current defenders, he makes more clearances and blocks than Christensen, Tomori and Zouma, also concedes much fewer fouls and yellow cards despite playing for a more defensive side. He makes lesser tackles and interceptions, but he is not much of a tackler. Plus he doesn't play high line pressing football. He will be easily our best defender on the ball. His pass conversion is only slightly lesser than Christensen, but he makes more key passes (level with Tomori) and has more number of goals and assists. He is almost similar to van Dijk in case of offensive attributes, even though the Liverpool player attempts a hell lot more long balls in a game. All of these numbers are definitely going to improve when he plays for an attacking side.

The most prominent negative side of him appears to be when he is competing for an areal duel. He seems to win about 54% of them. Even though these aren't awful numbers, Chelsea are an already weak side aerially. Another area to be scrutinized is, he has never played for a top team yet. Even though he has tons of Premier League experience, playing for a big side in that high defensive line against the likes of Vardy is going to be a totally different deal. 

So where does Nathan ake rank among our defenders? It is safe to say he is better than all of them at the moment, the closest being Andreas Christensen. He could easily slot in back four along with side the Danish, both of them could form a very proactive partnership. Zouma can also be partnered with him, the French being the aerially dominant tough tackler, Ake waiting to snatch the ball of the frontmen. At the moment it is a no brainer to go for him considering the buy-back clause and actual price. It remains to be seen whether the Chelsea board and Frank think the same...

Written by - @Manugazal
Photo credit - Express

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