In this article I will be comparing Nathan Aké with some of the best center-backs in world football and then see how he compares to our current options at the back.

There will be a lot of statistics used to compare the players as that is the most accurate way to do so. I am aware that most people are under the impression that statistics can not be accurately used to compare one player to another and I agree to an extent. However, there are ways to use stats so it’s possible to see which players are more superior in comparison to others, on paper at least. There are obviously things that stats won’t tell you such as mentality, leadership, composure, ability to organize a back-line, etc. As important as it is to possess those abilities, they mean nothing if you don’t also have the stats proving you are a good player.

There are obviously certain stats that are influenced by team Player X plays for, league, system, playing style, etc. Such as blocks, clearances, goals, assists and so on. I will not be using these stats as they don’t tell you very much.

I have developed an “algorithm”, if you will, using stats that are not heavily influenced if at all by the circumstances I mentioned above.

I will use 11 different statistics and I will compare every single player in every aspect and make a list from top to bottom where the best will be number 1 and the worst number 6. I will be using the combined stats from the last 2 seasons for every player.

Before we start I will tell you what every stat I use determines.

– All the passing stats helps me determine the level of technical ability and to a degree the level of composure a player posseses.

– Interceptions tell me how good a player is at reading the game and how aggressive they are when playing.

– A lack of tackles shows me the positional ability of a player. As Paolo Maldini once so famously spoke, ‘If you have to make a tackle, you have already made a mistake’ and it’s not without reason that the absolute best center-backs in the world don’t make many tackles per game. Therefore, the fewer tackles you make, the better.

– The dribbled past stat tells me how good a player is in 1v1 situations.

– Ground duels won tells me how physically imposing a player is on the ground and how much he maximizes/minimizes his strength.

– Aerial duels tells me how dominating a player is in the air.

– Errors made tells me how prone a player is to errors. It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that some players are quite a lot more error-prone than others.

– Fouls made and bookings combine to tell me how disciplined the player is and can also tell you something about positional ability and decision-making. The fewer fouls you commit/bookings you pick up, the better, obviously. Let’s get started.

Accurate passes p/g(per game)

Aymeric Laporte: 92%
Sergio Ramos: 91.5%
Matthijs de Ligt: 89.5%
Virgil van Dijk: 89%
Kalidou Koulibaly: 89%
Nathan Aké: 88%

Accurate passes in opposition half

Aymeric Laporte: 89%
Sergio Ramos: 87%
Kalidou Koulibaly: 83.5%
Matthijs de Ligt: 82.5%
Virgil van Dijk: 81%
Nathan Aké: 76.5%

Accurate long-balls

Sergio Ramos: 74%
Aymeric Laporte: 66%
Matthijs de Ligt: 64.5%
Virgil van Dijk: 60%
Kalidou Koulibaly: 58.5%
Nathan Aké: 47.5%

Interceptions

Sergio Ramos: 1.4
Aymeric Laporte: 1.2
Nathan Aké: 1.1
Virgil van Dijk: 1.1
Kalidou Koulibaly: 1.1
Matthijs de Ligt: 1

Tackles

Virgil van Dijk: 0.9
Matthijs de Ligt: 1.1
Nathan Aké: 1.4
Aymeric Laporte: 1.4
Sergio Ramos: 1.5
Kalidou Koulibaly: 2.2

Dribbled past

Virgil van Dijk: 0.1
Nathan Aké: 0.3
Matthijs de Ligt: 0.4
Sergio Ramos: 0.5
Aymeric Laporte: 0.5
Kalidou Koulibaly: 0.6

Ground duels won (%)

Virgil van Dijk: 76.7%
Nathan Aké: 73.6%
Sergio Ramos: 58.2%
Kalidou Koulibaly: 57.5%
Aymeric Laporte: 57.3%
Matthijs de Ligt: 56%

Aerial duels won (%)

Virgil van Dijk: 75.4%
Aymeric Laporte: 65.3%
Matthijs de Ligt: 65.1%
Kalidou Koulibaly: 58.5%
Sergio Ramos: 58.1%
Nathan Aké: 52%

Errors (penalties included, last 5 seasons)

* = Players who hasn’t played professionally for 5 seasons yet.

Nathan Aké: 3 (Every 43 games)
Aymeric Laporte: 8 (Every 15 games)
Virgil van Dijk: 9 ( Every 15 games)
Kalidou Koulibaly: 13 (Every 13 games)
Sergio Ramos: 15 (Every 8 games)
Matthijs de Ligt*: 14 (Every 6 games)

Fouls p/g

Virgil van Dijk: 0.4
Nathan Aké: 0.5
Aymeric Laporte: 0.9
Matthijs de Ligt: 1
Sergio Ramos: 1.3
Kalidou Koulibaly: 1.4

Bookings picked up last 5 seasons

* = Players who hasn’t played professionally for 5 years yet.

Virgil van Dijk: Yellow 8 – Red 1
Matthijs de Ligt* Yellow 11 – Red 0
Nathan Aké: Yellow 14 – Red 1
Aymeric Laporte: Yellow 27 – Red 1
Kalidou Koulibaly: Yellow 34 – Red 3
Sergio Ramos: Yellow 32 – Red 6

When deciding average position I will exclude passing stats as every player here apart from Aké is playing for a ball-dominant team so it’s only natural that he would finish last playing for Bournemouth. However, his passing stats are very good all things considered.

Average position:

Nathan Aké: 2.75
Virgil van Dijk: 1.37
Kalidou Koulibaly: 4.75
Sergio Ramos: 4.25
Matthijs de Ligt: 4
Aymeric Laporte: 3.1

So looking at stats, which is also the only place you will find facts in football, my algorithm shows that this is the final list on pure defensive ability, as passing stats didn’t make the cut for the average position.

1) Virgil van Dijk
2) Nathan Aké
3) Aymeric Laporte
4) Matthijs de Ligt
5) Sergio Ramos
6) Kalidou Koulibaly

An impressive finishing position for Nathan Aké who statistically matches up and then some with the absolute creme de la creme of center-backs in world football.

Some things that really stands out with Aké is the small amount of errors he makes, how few times he’s booked, 1v1 defending, how few fouls he concedes and how dominant he is on the ground for his size. A great example of a smart player who knows how to get the best out of what he’s got. It’s only natural to assume that his passing stats would rise to the levels of the others if he joined us, a more ball-dominant team, as well. His passing stats for Bournemouth are superior to Laporte’s passing stats for Bilbao bar long-balls. However, it’s hard to deny that he has some struggles imposing himself in the air. That being said, I would say that is his only clear weakness.

Nathan Ake. Credit: Sky Sports

To take a deep-dive into the other players here you can easily tell that some players have very clear strengths and very clear weaknesses.

Out of these 6 players, there is only one that I dare say don’t have any weaknesses at all and that is Virgil van Dijk. He is an absolute rock and even more so when you see how capable he is of leading and organizing. How fast he is. You can easily understand why many think he is the best center-back of all time and he very well maybe.

Kalidou Koulibaly is a player who is very well-liked amongst Chelsea-fans and many suggest we should go for him as he is the only “world-class” player we can get but is he really world-class? For me, he is the very physically gifted player that never learned how to be wise and kept playing on his physical strengths. His positioning is horrible for a player his age, with his experience, having played in Italy for so long. Highlighted by his huge amount of tackles, fouls made and bookings. His 1v1 ability is poor and he isn’t physically imposing neither on the ground nor in the air. You could almost wonder if the people who want him here has even seen him play any more than a few Champions League games?

Kalidou Koulibaly. Credit: Daily Express

Sergio Ramos is another really interesting player to look at. He has been viewed by many as arguably the greatest center-back of the last decade and it’s not difficult to see why. His influence has been monumental for Real Madrid scoring important goals, making crucial tackles, winning international trophies with Spain, etc. You can not deny the greatness that is Sergio Ramos. However, it’s also easy to see that he was once an attacking full-back made center-back. He is by no means a bad DEFENDER, but he is not a world-class one either. He is fabulous on the ball, his interceptions tell us he is an offensively minded and aggressive player and he loves scoring crucial goals. However, his defensive stats are rather questionable. He’s making too many tackles, he’s not particularly strong in 1v1 situations, he’s not physically imposing, he’s error-prone and his discipline record is probably the worst one out there. He’s averaging more than 1 red card and 7 yellow cards per season which is way too much for a center-back. He is world-class because of what he offers in the technical department, mentality-wise, leadership-wise and by being a clutch player that has rose to the occasion time and time again for his club. Defensively, however, he’s rather suspect.

Aymeric Laporte is another very solid player but his passing stats are rather influenced by his current club, Manchester City. However, there is no denying his class. Top player but difficult to realize just how good he is as he only played 9 games in his first season with City and only 4 games so far this season because of injuries.

Matthijs de Ligt is without a doubt the biggest center-back talent out there. His positional ability and talent for leadership are unmatched for a player his age. However, he is extremely error-prone which is to be expected from a player his age. He will definitely be one of the best in the future if he isn’t already.

Now, back to Aké. Since a lot of people are suggesting he’s not better than what we’ve already got, let’s compare him to them.

Accurate passes

Andreas Christensen: 92.5%
Nathan Aké: 88%
Antonio Rüdiger: 87.5%
Kurt Zouma: 85.5%
Fikayo Tomori: 85%

Accurate passes in opposition half

Andreas Christensen: 84.5%
Antonio Rüdiger: 79%
Nathan Aké: 76.5%
Kurt Zouma: 74%
Fikayo Tomori: 72.5%

Accurate long-balls

Antonio Rüdiger: 56.5%
Kurt Zouma: 51%
Nathan Aké: 47.5%
Andreas Christensen: 45.5%
Fikayo Tomori: 40%

Interceptions

Kurt Zouma: 1.8
Fikayo Tomori: 1.6
Nathan Aké: 1.1
Andreas Christensen: 1
Antonio Rüdiger: 0.8

Tackles

Kurt Zouma: 1
Nathan Aké: 1.4
Antonio Rüdiger: 1.4
Andreas Christensen: 1.6
Fikayo Tomori: 2.1

Dribbled past

Nathan Aké: 0.3
Kurt Zouma: 0.3
Fikayo Tomori: 0.4
Andreas Christensen: 0.4
Antonio Rüdiger: 0.4

Ground duels won %

Nathan Aké: 73.6%
Fikayo Tomori: 68.8%
Andreas Christensen: 65%
Kurt Zouma: 56.7%
Antonio Rüdiger: 53.2%

Aerial duels won %

Kurt Zouma: 70.4%
Fikayo Tomori: 55.5%
Antonio Rüdiger: 53.7%
Nathan Aké: 52%
Andreas Christensen: 51.8%

Errors last 5 seasons

* = Players who hasn’t played professionally for 5 seasons yet.

Nathan Aké: 3 (Every 43 games)
Antonio Rüdiger: 8 (Every 15 games)
Fikayo Tomori: 6 (Every 15 games)
Andreas Christensen: 8 (Every 13 games)
Kurt Zouma: 9 (Every 13 games)

Fouls p/g

Fikayo Tomori: 0.3
Nathan Aké: 0.5
Kurt Zouma: 0.9
Andreas Christensen: 0.9
Antonio Rüdiger: 1

Bookings picked up last 5 seasons

* = Players who hasn’t played professionally for 5 seasons yet.

Andreas Christensen: Yellow 5 Red 0
Kurt Zouma: Yellow 7 – Red 1
Fikayo Tomori: Yellow 12 Red 0
Nathan Aké: Yellow 14 – Red 1
Antonio Rüdiger: Yellow 24 – Red 1

Again I won’t count passing stats in the final judgment as Chelsea dominates possession far more than Bournemouth which makes it even more impressive that Aké is doing as well as he is. He would easily be our best player on the ball. I will also not count bookings this time as Tomori and Christensen have played far fewer games than the other players so that stat would be unfulfilling.

Average position:
Nathan Aké: 2
Kurt Zouma: 2.3
Antonio Rüdiger: 3.6
Fikayo Tomori: 2.4
Andreas Christensen: 3.9

Final position:

1) Nathan Aké
2) Kurt Zouma
3) Fikayo Tomori
4) Antonio Rüdiger
5) Andreas Christensen

So on pure defensive ability, Aké is statistically the best player and I dare say it’s almost guaranteed that he would be our best player on the ball as well if he was to play for us.

Nathan Ake – England’s best defender – The Hourly Football. Enoch.

In addition to this, he would also be our only center-back who is more comfortable on the left than he is on the right. He isn’t afraid of opening his mouth when it’s needed and he would be our most composed center-back next to Christensen. On top of that, he’s adding goals to our game on set-pieces. Aké has scored 8 league goals in the last 3 seasons, which is the same as Rüdiger, Christensen, Zouma, and Tomori combined.

To further prove what an influence he can have on a team defensively, Bournemouth conceded 1.3 goals p/g with him before he was injured. After that, they have conceded 1.8 goals p/g, a difference of 0.5, which would total 19 goals over 38 games. We once went an entire season conceding only 15. On top of that, their goal difference has fallen from -3 to -12 in just 5 matches. That is a similar influence to what Virgil van Dijk had at Southampton. In the 15/16 season, his only “full” season with them, they conceded 1.1 goals p/g. After he joined Liverpool they conceded 1.7 goals p/g, a difference of 0.6. In contrast, Leicester conceded 1.3 goals p/g with Maguire and has improved by only conceding 0.9 goals p/g without him. That’s pretty telling if you ask me.

There is a reason he is the only name on our books for the center-back position. There is a reason that every top 6 team bar Liverpool is interested in him. There is a reason Leicester wanted him to replace Maguire before even looking at Söyüncü and there is a reason Bournemouth wanted over £70m for him. He is a world-class player and a big move is all it’s going to take to make people realize that en masse.

#WeAcheForAké

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