Transfer Talk: Blues aim for Ake as Tuchel targets rearguard revamp
Ex-Chelsea defender Nathan Ake is seemingly surplus to requirements at Manchester City — and a return to Stamford Bridge is on the cards if the right offer lands.
The Blues have lost centre-backs Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively on free transfers, so need to enter the market for replacements.
And despite his lack of opportunities at the Etihad, Ake has impressed when called upon by the Citizens.
As Thomas Tuchel prepares to bolster his side's backline, we take a look at how the Dutch defender would fit in at his old club.
One of the most attractive aspects of Ake's profile is his versatility.
The 27-year-old has regularly featured at both centre-back and left-back, although more of his game time has come at the heart of defence.
That experience lends itself well to the back-three system Tuchel employs at Chelsea, in which the left-footed Ake would likely operate as a left-sided centre-back.
On the ball
Like all Pep Guardiola signings, Ake is extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet.
The 27-cap international attempted 83.15 passes per 90 minutes in the Premier League last season, completing 75.52 — the seventh-best tally in the division — resulting in an impressive 90.82% completion rate.
He was also heavily involved in build-up play and his 94.6 touches per 90 placed him inside the division's top 10 players.
Ake's ability when in possession would help Chelsea exert more control in games, as Tuchel looks to turn his side into title contenders.
A reliable performer
In April, Guardiola praised Ake's character — despite his relative lack of minutes last season.
He said: "He [Ake] is so reliable. Especially when you behave in your life like he does, always you will play well.
"In the bad phases he is always helping. When he doesn't get the minutes he deserves and then gets the minutes, he's thinking about the other ones and has done well.
"He is an exceptional person. His mother and father who passed away should be so proud.
"The older I get, the more aware of this kind of behaviour I am. Your life is better when you behave like this."
Though his 5ft 11in stature is below average for a central defender, Ake is an aerial threat from set pieces — scoring twice in just 920 minutes of Premier League football last term.
The Dutchman's strong vertical leap is a useful asset defensively as well, ensuring he is not a liability in the air.
In fact, City's No6 won an impressive 3.62 aerial duels per 90 in the league during 2021-22, putting him inside the division's top 20 for that metric.
Rudiger played a major role under Tuchel at Chelsea and will certainly be missed.
But Ake's numbers — albeit from a smaller sample size — suggest he is of the right profile to replace the Germany international.
The Berlin native's passing and involvement in build-up play were important qualities as Chelsea looked to pin opponents back — Ake has demonstrated that he has the ability to perform those tasks to a high standard.
Furthermore, as a left-footed player, he would be a more natural fit for the left-sided centre-back berth than the right-footed Rudiger.
Though Ake would cost a reported £50million, it could end up being money well spent by the Blues.