Bournemouth’s five-year spell in the Premier League looks almost certain to end with the club needing a minor miracle to survive on the final day of the season, the club’s impending drop into the second tier likely to lead to an exodus of their finest talents.
Ryan Fraser is already a confirmed departure after opting to leave on a free transfer, though the name attracting the greatest interest is that of Nathan Ake with the centre-back on the radar of the division’s leading clubs.
The Netherlands international has won plenty of admirers in recent seasons and could now be set for a big summer move, so for those of you who like to follow the latest betting news on great sites like easyodds.com, we’ve decided to profile the five favourites to sign the Bournemouth defender:
Arsenal – 20/1
The early stages of Mikel Arteta’s reign at Arsenal have shown signs of promise but the Spaniard will be more than aware of the task facing him at the Emirates, the north London side some considerable distance from challenging the Premier League’s best sides.
Amongst Arteta’s chief concerns will be strengthening the spine of the side and particularly an often vulnerable defence, centre-back having long been an area of weakness that Arsenal have failed to address.
The likes of David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis have failed to convince, whilst Rob Holding and Callum Chambers have spent a significant time injured. William Saliba, signed last summer before spending the season on loan with Saint-Etienne, will also need time to settle.
Ake’s arrival would provide Arteta’s backline with an instant – and Premier League proven – upgrade, though his reported £35m asking price may be a stretch for a side with limited funds amid the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Liverpool – 18/1
Newly-crowned Premier League champions and a side boasting the best defensive record in the division for a second successive year, Liverpool’s priorities may lie elsewhere in what is expected to be a summer of minimal business conducted on Merseyside.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are ranked as the fourth favourites to secure Ake’s signature, however, and could launch a move should Dejan Lovren leave the club this summer in search of regular first-team football.
Ake would provide the champions with a natural left-footed option at the heart of the defence, whilst his versatility in being able to play at left-back would provide the Reds’ squad with some much needed cover, veteran midfielder James Milner having often been used as an auxiliary full-back in the absence of Andy Robertson.
Manchester United – 12/1
Manchester United’s rebuild is beginning to take shape and the club’s impressive second half to the season has raised optimism around Old Trafford, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expected to invest heavily this summer as the Red Devils seek to bridge the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City.
Amongst Solskjaer’s list of priorities is believed to be the addition of a new centre-back, the indifferent form of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof seeing the club linked with a move for Ake.
Those rumours were further intensified after Solskjaer’s comments towards the defender following the clash between United and Bournemouth earlier this month, the Norwegian appearing to tell the 25-year-old: “We need a left-footed centre-back, so keep going”.
Chelsea – 12/1
Chelsea were strongly linked with a move to sign former player Ake during the January transfer window, the Dutch defender having come through the club’s academy system before making seven league appearances for the west London side.
The £20m deal that took Ake to Bournemouth three years ago saw a buy-back clause inserted by Chelsea, who retain the option to re-sign the centre-back for a fee of around £40m.
Ake played much of his football at Stamford Bridge as a defensive midfielder but could now return to boost their defensive ranks, Frank Lampard’s side having conceded a huge 54 goals so far this season – more than any other side in the top half.
Chelsea’s exciting summer of recruitment has already seen Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner arrive from Ajax and RB Leipzig respectively to boost their attacking options, but solidifying his backline must surely be a priority for Lampard if the Blues are to challenge next season.
Manchester City – 1/6
The odds-on favourites to secure Ake’s signing are Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola’s side having reportedly made contact with Bournemouth as they bid to address the defensive woes which have seen the Premier League title slip from their grasp.
Aymeric Laporte’s injury proved hugely influential to City’s failed bid to defend the title, Guardiola utilising midfielder Fernandinho as an emergency centre-back for much of the campaign.
Neither Nicolas Otamendi or John Stones – who has been linked with a return to Everton – have convinced the City boss of their talents, whilst the Spaniard has shown an obvious reluctance to partner the duo at the heart of the defence in Laporte’s absence.
Youngster Eric Garcia is also a rumoured target for Barcelona and defensive additions are a priority in what many are anticipating will be a busy summer of activity at the Etihad. Ake’s arrival would add to City’s defensive depth, whilst his home-grown status is also likely to appeal should Stones depart this summer.