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Aston Villa: Gerrard can land his own Van Dijk with Nathan Ake deal

Recent reports have seen Aston Villa linked with a move for Manchester City defender Nathan Ake, with the Dutchman set to be allowed to depart the Etihad this summer.

While the suggestion is that City boss Pep Guardiola is a ‘fan’ of the 27-year-old, the Premier League champions are said to be willing to cash in on the former Bournemouth defender if they receive a suitable offer in the current window.

Should Villa sign Ake?

Not for me!

Not for me!

Yes, absolutely!

Yes, absolutely!

The belief is that Villa are one of a number of top-flight clubs who are monitoring the situation, as the Midlands outfit are seemingly in the market for a new left-sided defender – with the 27-cap international offering that flexibility to feature at both centre-back and left-back.

Dubbed a “baller” by one source, the 5 foot 11 defensive rock only joined his current side on a £41m deal two years ago, although appears set for a hasty departure after two successive title triumphs.

With Sevilla’s Diego Carlos already in the door, it looks as if manager Steven Gerrard is keen to significantly bolster his backline this summer, amid doubts over the future of captain Tyrone Mings and teammate Ezri Konsa.

The hope for the Villa boss will be that Ake – who has been described as “special” by Marwan Ahmed – can have a similar impact to that of his compatriot Virgil van Dijk, with the 30-year-old having proven hugely influential since his £75m move to Liverpool back in January 2018 – a club, of course, close to Gerrard’s heart.

The younger man – who began his career at Chelsea – has previously admitted to trying to model his game around the Reds colossus, while he has also been the subject of praise from Van Dijk himself, who labelled him an “underrated” figure.

It will undoubtedly be near on impossible to replicate the success of a man who has been described as the “best centre-half of all time” by pundit Michael Owen and has swept a host of major honours during his time at Anfield in recent seasons, although the indications are that Ake can make just as strong an impact at Villa Park as his international colleague has done on Merseyside.

This is not simply wishful thinking, however, with the pair no doubt sharing a likeness in their playing style, with both men seemingly comfortable in possession and adept at playing the ball out from the back.

The statistics appear to corroborate that claim with Van Dijk ranking in the top 11% for pass completion and the top 3% for attempted passes among those in his position among Europe’s top five leagues, while the City man ranks in the top 7% and the top 2% for the same two metrics, albeit while having featured less frequently.

Both are also aerially dominant, with Ake winning 3.82 aerial duels per game compared to 4.02 per game for the former Southampton brute, while they both provide a threat in an attacking sense, having netted 15 and 17 goals, respectively, in their Premier League careers thus far.

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David Ginola at Aston Villa

First up, who did Aston Villa sign David Ginola from in 2000?

As the case of Van Dijk has shown, it is never too late for a superstar to emerge, with the £49.5m-rated giant spending time at the likes of Groningen, Celtic and the Saints before truly being recognised as an elite force after joining Jurgen Klopp’s side.

While the Villans may not be considered a club of equal standing, that’s not to say that Ake can’t go on to help spark a dramatic improvement in the coming years and help push the ambitious club into European contention.

Who knows, Gerrard could have a Van Dijk of his own if he is to pluck the £100k-per-week star from Manchester this summer.

AND in other news, Lange eyeing Villa move for £30m “goalscoring machine”, he’d be their own Darwin Nunez

Article title: Aston Villa: Gerrard can land his own Van Dijk with Nathan Ake deal

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