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Pep Guardiola Reveals Joy in Handing Additional Game Time to One Man City Star

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has sung the praises of his versatile Dutch defender, Nathan Ake following his performance in the Premier League at the weekend.

It's fair to say that the 26-year-old has had an up-and-down start to life at the Etihad Stadium. 

Since joining for £41 million in the summer of 2020, the defender - who can play as a left-back or on the left side of central defence - has started just 12 of a possible 46 Premier League games.

If having to compete with big names such as Ruben Dias, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte wasn't enough, Nathan Aké has also dealt with injuries that kept him out for much of his debut season. 

But after, he helped the team keep a clean sheet as a full-back against Burnley at the weekend, and Sky Blues boss Pep Guardiola was full of praise for the former Chelsea and Bournemouth man.

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Speaking to the press after the Burnley game, Pep described Aké as "so focused, so concentrated" and "an intelligent guy".

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"On Saturday, our build-up was with three at the back with Aymer [Laporte] more in the centre and John more on the right. It suited us perfectly."

On his rationale for choosing Aké for this hybrid role, Pep said, "Against a team like Burnley, they are strong in the air and at set pieces and corners and it helped to have a player Nathan alongside John, Aymer and Rodri then Ferna in the last few minutes."

It’s a joy to have him - Nathan is a great guy. He always trains well and is loved by the team. This type of person when I can give them minutes, I am really pleased for them.

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Aké is a valuable option for Guardiola at left-back, where Oleksandr Zinchenko, Joao Cancelo and Josh Wilson-Esbrand have already played this season. 

Aymeric Laporte, Danilo, Angeliño, Fernandinho, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Aleksandar Kolarov and Fabian Delph are also among the long list of players to fill in there during the five-and-a-half years of Guardiola's reign so far.

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