Manchester City are currently 23 points behind Liverpool in the Premier League table and if the winning culture that has been demonstrated at the club over the course of the past decade is anything to go by, that is unlikely to recur next season.
Vincent Kompany departed the club last summer and no replacement has been purchased since, with Nathan Ake amongst the names that are linked ahead of a move when the current campaign is concluded.
However, the Bournemouth defender appears to be a mixed bag when it comes to his suitability to Guardiola’s game.
Let’s start with the positives, though.
Firstly, Ake is just 25 years-old meaning that he should technically be entering his peak years, and he rarely suffers from injury, with one hamstring problem being his only fitness issue since 2014.
Moreover, his club are threatened by the prospect of relegation. Bournemouth are placed 18th in the table with seven matches remaining, and the south coast club still have to play City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City to name but a few tricky opponents.
He would probably be available for a reduced fee if Eddie Howe’s outfit do suffer relegation, allowing City to secure him on the cheap.
On the pitch, Ake’s most notable quality in relation to Guardiola’s possession-based brand of football is his composure, particularly when the ball is at his feet.
He’s typically Dutch in that regard, with defenders originating from Holland commonly being ball-playing types.
Ake appears comfortable when pressurised and doesn’t seem overly flustered when presented with risky situations, and that coolness is also present when he’s defending.
The Bournemouth man is also quick for a centre-back, which is a highly valuable trait considering the high defensive line that City opt to employ virtually every single week. Ake is less vulnerable than most when having to deal with through passes in behind.
On the negative side, though, Ake is very poor aerially in comparison to his peers, which may stem from his height – standing 5ft 11in – meaning he would be City’s shortest centre-back.
Some 58 central defenders have accumulated over 1,000 minutes in the Premier League this season, with Ake placing 57th for aerial duel success.
He wins just 46.6 percent of his aerial battles which places him ahead of only Southampton’s Jack Stephens and for further context, some 283 central defenders have accumulated over 1,000 minutes in Europe’s top five leagues this season with Ake ranking inside the bottom 25.
His lack of aerial prowess would be problem at City for two primary reasons.
The first relates to opposing teams often opting to hit long when presented with a high press, meaning that Ake would have to deal with aerial balls quite regularly. Also, because of the dominance that Guardiola’s men typically exhibit, set-pieces are a weakness that they suffer from and Ake is unlikely to resolve that.
The Dutchman is also a left-sided centre-back, which is where Aymeric Laporte typically plays, and the playing style that he’s accustomed to at Bournemouth is very different to what he’d be expected to represent at the Etihad.
Ultimately, he could arrive as a backup to the Spaniard and his price would determine whether a move is sensible on City’s part, but Ake does have flaws that suggest he would be a risk.
Is the risk worth the reward? Guardiola will decide.