Opinion: Relegation strugglers who could become Man United stars | Part 1 – Nathan Aké

At the age of only 25-years-old, dynamic defender Nathan Aké has enjoyed a rather understated start to his Premier League career.

Having been plucked from the Dutch Feyenoord Academy in 2011 by a youth-obsessed Chelsea, the same fate befell him as is similarly experienced by a number of prospects on their books at the time; a series of hopeful loan spells with aimless objectives and potential for embarrassment. Though where recent years have seen the likes of Mohammed Salah and Kevin de Bruyne come to fall foul to the Blues in a foreign league setup, Aké’s development remained on home turf with locals Reading and Watford, before a critical loan move to AFC Bournemouth was made permanent in 2017.

Since then, he and his teammates have enjoyed a largely prosperous outing in the Premier League but for a lacklustre season broken in two by the effects of the global pandemic. And since returning from lockdown, the Cherries have slumped to a troubling 19th place with 6 points between them and safety, and only three games left to play. Though where a lot of the attention has been trusted onto how poorly they’ve performed until now, here is where we consider Aké as their stand-out performer; as the rumour mill links him to a move away from the Vitality Stadium should they succumb to the drop.

And Old Trafford is looking to be a more-than-less-likely destination for the centre-half.

After a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of United over a week ago, Solskjaer (presumably forgetting that there wasn’t a crowd to drown out his conversations) is depicted in an alleged conversation with the flowy-haired Dutchman, saying: “we need a left-sided centre-back … keep going”, and Ole’s right.

With Maguire, Lindelof and a returning Eric Bailly holding onto United’s central spots at the back, the club are in need of a versatile figure capable of expanding the back line where our incumbent selects fail to do so. So here, Aké’s experience at centre-back, left-back and central midfield for a number of formations could seek to help United’s eventual domestic charge in the seasons to come.

Moreover, his confidence on the ball, competent aerial ability and commendable physical attributes would highlight him to be a very strong signing if we could get him at the right price; which altogether comes down to two things: whether or not they survive, and whether or not his old employers see some value in him too.

Upon leaving for Bournemouth, Chelsea inserted a buy-back clause (believed to be in the region of £40 million) to retain first option on Aké if he proved to be a mistake in selling, and Lampard’s defensive inequalities in recent outings suggest that he could be a viable option for the Blues. Though should Bournemouth be relegated, it’s believed that this figure would be reduced significantly to other suitors like United (where Chelsea’s clause would take precedence over any drop in market value). So, should the Cherries drop down, United would be able to secure themselves a long-term asset for a cur-price fee – an altogether welcome prospect as we look to protect our defensive options.

Read more: Frank Lampard’s Chelsea set to make enquiry for Man United player

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