Can This Tottenham Hotspur Linked Premier League Defender Replace This Ageing Belgian Ace?

Following a rough start to 2020, it is pretty clear that Tottenham Hotspur require reinforcements in the defensive department. Nathan Ake, in particular, has garnered a lot of attention from Chelsea and now it seems Jose Mourinho is ready to rival the Blues for the defender (The Sun). It won’t be surprising to see the Lilywhites going all out for the Dutchman in the upcoming summer transfer window.

In this article, we will discuss whether Ake has the quality to strengthen the Tottenham Hotspur backline and emerge as an ideal replacement for Jan Vertonghen.

Gameplay comparison

Ake’s style of play is quite similar to that of Vertonghen – an intelligent defender with good decision making and excellent technical quality. He has already impressed the onlookers with his incredible work-rate, coupled with his physical prowess – making him a well-rounded centre-half.

Moreover, Ake is someone who can be utilised as the primary ball-playing centre-back. He is quite useful when it comes to distributing possession from the back. And these qualities certainly resemble Vertonghen in his prime, when his ability to instigate the build-up helped Mauricio Pochettino create an efficient build-up system at Tottenham.

However, one of the main aspects of Vertonghen’s game was his versatility. The Belgian can feature as a left-back as well as a centre-half. Similarly, Ake is capable of functioning in a wide defensive role and even as a holding midfielder.

A game of stats

Ake’s defensive characteristics make him one of the most highly-rated defenders in the Premier League. And his statistics speak for themselves. Indeed, the Dutchman has averaged one tackle and 1.4 interceptions per game this season. Although these numbers might seem rather low, it is fair to point out that the defender has amassed a success rate of 71%.

But more importantly, Ake has made 96 clearances this season – a tally only bettered by Steve Cook in the Bournemouth team. It reflects his dogged nature in defence while a pass completion rate of 88% is indicative of his excellent ball-distribution. It is, in fact, one of the highest in the league among defenders belonging to clubs outside the traditional top six.

Stat courtesy: Whoscored

Verdict

What Tottenham have lacked this season is the presence of an imposing centre-back. Toby Alderweireld has done well, but it hasn’t been enough to help reinvigorate a defensive unit that has severely underperformed throughout the 2019/20 campaign.

The potential arrival of Ake, therefore, could serve as a breath of fresh air for Spurs. What makes the Dutchman such an appealing target for the club is that he has played a lot of football over the past few years. Same cannot be said about the likes of Alderweireld and Vertonghen.

In fact, only three outfielders have featured in more minutes than Ake in the Premier League since he joined Bournemouth (per Whoscored). And given his characteristics and talent, coupled with the fact that he is still only 24, Ake seems like an ideal replacement for Vertonghen.

A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.