Nathan Ake scored the only goal against Tottenham once again to help Manchester City progress in the FA Cup just like he did against Arsenal last season. Plus the little bonus of writing his name in the history books as the first Manchester City player ever to score at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Ake has risen from warming the bench and struggling with injury in his early days at the Etihad Stadium to become one of Pep Guardiola’s most important players. That’s despite being seen by many as just a squad player when he joined the club from relegated Bournemouth back in 2020.
Since getting past the early jitters, the Netherlands international has grown in influence within the team and on the pitch. He is now easily Mr. Reliable for Guardiola when the going gets tough.
In fact, he was so important last term some considered him one of the players of the season. Featuring in most of City’s most important games of the campaign, the 28-year-old was always there when needed.
He has carried on from where he left off last term. While the likes of John Stones, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish have had their season disrupted due to injuries and some other players like Ruben Dias have struggled with form, Ake has gotten better like fine wine.
To think that this was a player many (including yours truly) wondered if he could fit in at City when he joined, yet to have so improved shows just how much some players can transform under Guardiola’s tutelage.
It is understandable then that he was rewarded with a contract extension last season that will see him stay at the Etihad Stadium until 2027.
Scoring such important goals in difficult games even as a center-back puts him in a special place. Although his job is to keep the ball from his own net, going further to score in order to help the team win is indeed the stuff of the greats.
It is what proves he really belongs at City. But he was not always the City type of player. Hence, to have grown so much under Guardiola to a place where he’s now a key part of the team is nothing short of remarkable. Credit must go to the manager, and to the player as well for taking on the challenge of stepping up to City’s level and succeeding with flying colors.