Nathan Ake has emerged as a key player at Manchester City over the past few seasons with his form during last season’s treble-winning campaign seeing him rewarded with a new contract

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Ex-Man City striker backs Arsenal to topple Pep’s men

Nathan Ake has admitted his Manchester City career could have been over after a year - if it hadn’t been for Pep Guardiola.

The versatile Dutch defender has become such a key figure at the Etihad that he was given a starting role in the Champions League final ahead of Kyle Walker last month despite missing part of City’s treble quest with a hamstring injury. He has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension during the Blues’ pre-season tour of the Far East - while Walker is now deciding whether to seek a new challenge with Bayern Munich.

But Ake admitted his first season with City following his £41million arrival from Bournemouth three years ago was so disappointing that other managers may have lost faith in him. But not Guardiola, who also blocked the 28-year-old’s return to Chelsea last summer when the London club wanted to take him back to Stamford Bridge.

Ake said: “I can’t talk for other players but if I look at myself, the first season wasn’t great. But Pep still kept the faith in me and still kept trusting me to improve.

“Maybe not every manager would do that, so personally I will always be thankful that he had the confidence in me. Over the years there have been a few people who have needed a bit of time, especially at City. Some people fit in straight away, others need that extra time. Pep knows that.

“Obviously I wasn’t at my best in that first season, but that’s why I am even more grateful to the manager, the fans and the club for sticking by me and believing in me. The second and third seasons have been so much better and I have enjoyed it.

Nathan Ake Nathan Ake played a key role in Man City winning the treble last season (


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“To be fair, even in the first year, from the moment I walked in I felt very much at home. It felt very good and happy. So that’s why it’s been so good to overcome that tough first year and win the trophies we have. To have the season we’ve just had and to now extend my contract, I am so excited by that.”

Ake, who came through the youth ranks at Feyenoord before joining Chelsea’s academy at the age of 15, outlined how he has improved under Guardiola - and insists he will continue to develop. He has won the Premier League in each of his three seasons in Manchester - but he revealed how Guardiola gave him a wake-up call when City were hammered 5-2 at home by Leicester in one of his early appearances.

Ake now uses an App on his phone to look at clips of himself and opponents such is the attention to detail that the City boss demands. He said: “We had a lot of possession in that Leicester game, but I didn’t really do anything with it.

“I thought I had done okay, but then the manager called me into his office and showed me clips. He said ‘if you’re just going to pass to the left and right and don’t commit the strikers then you don’t join in with our structure and it’s difficult for our attackers to attack.’

“Those are the things that make you think and make you improve. The second season I was much better and last season I was better again, but there are still improvements to be had.

“For me this is the best place to be. Last year was an amazing, amazing season and in my opinion we have the best manager in the world.

Nathan Ake Nathan Ake endured a tricky start to life with Man City (


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“I know he wants us to fight for trophies again next season so I’m sure he won’t let anyone slip-up. That’s what keeps you performing at the highest level and that’s where you want to be as a player.”

Ake hopes Walker will still be around for the new season. The England full-back is a popular character at the Etihad and Guardiola is desperate not to lose his quality and experience, especially after seeing Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez leave.

Ake added: “Kyle is a fantastic character in the group and such an important player for us. Obviously we would like him to stay. We don’t know what’s going to happen but all we can hope for is that he stays and helps us again to win titles. We have to see - but I think it’s clear that all the players and everyone at the club wants him with us.”