“He has been fundamental”: Guardiola identifies Man City star, not Haaland, behind Premier League title

May 23rd, 2023 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Pep Guardiola has singled out ‘proper defender’ Nathan Ake for praise after his form gave Manchester City the ‘boost’ they needed to win the Premier League title.

The club lifted their third consecutive Premier League title on Sunday, following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat by Nottingham Forest a day prior.

Ake has played an important part in their success this season, filling in at left back and in the centre of defence throughout the campaign.

The 28-year-old has missed City’s last four games – including the win over Chelsea – due to a hamstring injury but Guardiola pinpointed his contribution as one of the biggest factors behind their treble push this season.

“He has been fundamental,” Guardiola said after City’s victory over Chelsea at the Etihad.

“I learned this season when you play against (Bukayo) Saka, Vinicius (Jnr), (Gabriel) Martinelli, (Mohamed) Salah or (Sadio) Mane in the past, you need a proper defender to win duels one v one.

“Or, in the Champions League, at that level, they need one action to beat you and Nathan gave us that boost that I didn’t have in the past.

“The biggest boost was having a proper defender and in the past we didn’t have it and Nathan, (Manuel) Akanji and [Kyle] Walker did it.”

Ake – who joined Man City from Bournemouth for £41m in 2020 – is enjoying his most productive season at the Etihad.

The Dutchman has made 38 appearances – just two short of his collective total across his first two seasons at the club.

Ahead of the clash with Chelsea, Guardiola described him as feeling ‘much better’ following his hamstring injury.

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