Manchester United Reportedly Set for Tottenham Transfer Fight Over Nathan Ake

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 9, 2018

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01:  Nathan Ake of Bournemouth during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Crystal Palace at Vitality Stadium on October 1, 2018 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Manchester United are reportedly poised for a battle with Tottenham Hotspur in the January transfer window as both sides are said to be preparing moves to sign Bournemouth centre-back Nathan Ake.

The Daily Star's Alex Crook wrote that Jose Mourinho sees the Cherries defender as a good addition to his ailing back line, while Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino wants him to replace the potentially outgoing Toby Alderweireld. 

Ake played under Mourinho at Chelsea briefly. However, he was loaned to Bournemouth for the 2016-17 season before he made the move permanent.

Alderweireld is still yet to sign a new deal in north London. The Belgium international's current contract expires in June, and although he has the option to extend that by a year, doing so will also reportedly activate a release clause that makes him available for £25 million.

That's less than Ake would be expected to cost now, considering Bournemouth paid £20 million to make his signing permanent last summer, a decision that now looks all the more valuable.

Ake's move to the Vitality Stadium has been a success, and Goal's Nizaar Kinsella agreed nearer the start of the season that he would be worth a decent chunk more to his employers if he were sold:

Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella

Bournemouth have turned Nathan Ake into some player. Doubt they regret sinking £20 million on him. He's been keeping an eye on Willian today. #CFC #CHEBOU

Mourinho has tried out many different centre-back combinations after failing to sign a new defender in the summer. Midfielder Ander Herrera was even given a go earlier this term, while Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones have been rotated frequently during the manager's time at the club.

Ake is still only 23 years of age but is an experienced figure and one suited to the Premier League. He stamped his authority on a 2-1 home win over Crystal Palace earlier in October. Sky Sports Statto illustrated his contribution from the back line:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

🍾 Man of the Match: @afcbournemouth’s Nathan Ake 🍒🍒🍒 Most: Clearances ✅ 🚮 Touches ✅👌 Passes ✅🎟 Joint-most: Blocks ✅⛔️ Shots ✅🎯 Won 100% of aerial duels 🍾 https://t.co/nY7jfwUrVO

Tottenham have recruited well at centre-back in current years, with Davinson Sanchez looking like their next star after Belgian duo Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have impressed so much during their tenures.

Ake may not fancy joining the Red Devils over Bournemouth in their current state anyway. The Cherries are flying this season and are sixth in the Premier League as things stand, two places and three points above United.

Statistician Simon Gleave questioned what has happened to a Red Devils defence that has conceded 14 times in eight matches this season, which is half the amount they let in over the course of their last campaign:

Simon Gleave @SimonGleave

It would be good to hear from someone who has watched more of their matches than me (or a tactical analyst who has). What is going on with Manchester United's defence? Particularly given that the attack appears to have improved.

Ake's arrival could help stem the tide, but it's uncertain at present as to whether Mourinho will even make it to January at the United helm, per The Independent's Miguel Delaney

Bournemouth won't be content to let their star man leave midway through the campaign, though, and both United and Spurs are likely eyeing a premium payment to prise him away from the Vitality this winter.