Donny van de Beek isn’t the only £40 million Dutchman who could be forgiven for looking back on his move to Manchester in summer 2020 with a tinge of regret – but at least Newcastle United target Nathan Ake has a medal or two to keep him warm at night.
Remarkably enough, the big-money arrival from Bournemouth picked up a trophy every six games on average during his debut season in Manchester City colours.
But last season’s Premier League success must have tasted bitter-sweet given Ake was little more than an expensively acquired extra in an all-star cast, barely given a speaking role in Pep Guardiola’s blockbuster.
Ake has started just 12 league games since moving to the Etihad in August last year.
And there’s an argument to be made that, when Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte are fully fit and firing, Ake is Guardiola’s third-choice left-sided centre-half.
Is Nathan Ake set to leave Manchester City for Newcastle United?
The 26-year-old Dutchman hasn’t exactly sparkled when handed an opportunity either.
City have won just one of the past four games in which Ake has started in his favoured centre-half role – and that was a narrow 4-3 victory over struggling Newcastle United.
According to 90Min, the Magpies haven’t been put off by Ake’s error-strewn performance on that May afternoon.
The appointment of Eddie Howe as the club’s manager, it’s believed, could see a reunion with his former Bournemouth stalwart at St James’ Park with Newcastle in the market for a commanding central defender in the January transfer window.
Ake proved under Howe that, despite Bournemouth’s less-than-impressive defensive record, he does have the potential to be a top-class Premier League centre-back.
There’s a reason why Manchester City paid £40 million for him little more than a year ago, after all. Guardiola knows a top-class talent when he sees one – and he certainly saw one in Ake.
But there’s a realisation that, if Ake is to return to those levels and regain his confidence and composure, he may have little choice but to swap a title battle for a relegation dogfight.
Here’s what some Manchester City supporters on Twitter had to say about the Ake to Newcastle rumours: