Chelsea are considering triggering their buyback clause on Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake, according to multiple reports in the English media.
Manager Frank Lampard is waiting to see whether Antonio Rudiger can stay fit before making a final decision, but a move to bring the Dutchman back to Stamford Bridge could well happen in the January transfer window.
So would Ake be an improvement on the Blues’ current options at centre-half? We take a look at the stats:
He is a proactive defender
Ake likes to get involved, which as a defender can be a good and a bad quality. Since the beginning of last season for Bournemouth, the 24-year-old has averaged 8.27 successful defensive actions per 90 minutes.
That is higher than Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori. The closest to Ake is Tomori who averages 7.96.
The Cherries defender also averages the most interceptions per game (6.63) out of the five, but despite being so proactive, he actually commits the lowest number of fouls (0.55 per 90).
Ake is weak in the air
The centre-back is only 5ft 10, which makes him shorter than any of Lampard’s current options at the back. It means he is also the weakest in the air, winning just 43% of his aerial duels over the past eighteen months.
Ake will need to be partnered with a commanding player alongside him if Chelsea are not to be exposed by teams who have towering centre forwards.
He is a precise tackler
Only Tomori averages more tackles per 90 minutes than Ake among the five centre-backs, but there is a key difference between the two players. While Tomori has won 22% of his challenges since the start of last season, Ake has won 44%.
Being a precise tackler is not the be-all and end-all as a defender, as some of the best, including Virgil van Dijk, don’t tend to lunge in, but Ake is certainly impressive in this area nonetheless.
Ake is decent in one-on-one duels
Winning your individual battles is a key part of being a good defender and the Dutch international measures up pretty well compared with Chelsea’s other centre-half options.
Ake averages 5.3 defensive duels per 90 minutes, with only Tomori (6.4) above him in that regard. He also only trails Zouma (73.31%) and Tomori (72.62%) in successful duels (71.61%) against opposing players.
All in all, the Bournemouth defender does measure up pretty well with Chelsea’s other options, but his lack of aerial presence may be a concern if the Blues do shell out £40m in January.