Manchester City won the Premier League last season after a breathtaking duel with Liverpool. However, the close run to the title suggests Pep Guardiola needs to make some squad improvements in order to fend off the challenges in the upcoming season.
One of the areas that needed an upgrade was the defense, which was further depleted by the departure of Vincent Kompany. City's long term skipper left the club on a free transfer at the end of the season, leaving behind a void crying to be filled.
City do have Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones in their ranks, but neither seems capable enough to replace the imposing Belgian. That is why their Spanish manager could be tempted to scan his options in the market.
Not all defenders can suit the mold of the ideal Pep Guardiola centre-back, but here we have shortlisted three men who do fit the bill:
#3 Nathan Ake (Netherlands, AFC Bournemouth)
When Nathan Ake was linked to a move to Manchester City, it raised a lot of eyebrows. But despite the popular opinion indicating otherwise, the Dutchman could actually be perfect for Guardiola’s tactics.
Ake is a dynamic centre-back who is good with the ball at his feet and stellar at the back. Another talent that Chelsea let slip away, the 24 year-old has been brilliant for Bournemouth even since he joined them from the Blues in 2016 - initially on loan, before a permanent deal in 2017.
The Dutchman was a constant presence at the back for Bournemouth last season, playing almost every minute in the Premier League. He was extremely disciplined in defense, picking up just 3 yellow cards, even though he had to deal with some of the most potent attacking forces in the world.
Ake still managed to rack up a pass success rate of 86% and won 2.3 aerial duels per game. The Dutchman is also a goal threat from set pieces and has scored 10 goals from 117 appearances in the Premier League.
Ake has tremendous composure on the ball and has been a leader at the back for his club, enabling them to register 10 clean sheets last season. His composure, abilities on the ball and experience in the Premier League make him an enticing prospect for Guardiola to target.
Ake would also be comfortable under Guardiola’s ball-controlling style of play. His versatility – Ake has the ability to play left back as well - and his age will also appeal to the Spaniard.