Nathan Aké’s contribution to the 2022/23 campaign was immense.

The Dutch defender hardly put a foot wrong throughout our Treble-winning season, becoming an automatic choice when fit and even making the left-back role his own.

Joao Cancelo started the season as our regular left-sided defender, with his role almost unique within the modern game, but over the course of time, Pep Guardiola played Aké in that position, instead using John Stones as the defender with advanced, creative responsibilities.  

Ake’s performances when called upon not only impressed his manager, made it almost impossible for the City boss to leave him out.

All the more impressive is the fact that Aké is a central defender by trade, but his solid, no-nonsense defending at left-back was outstanding, time and time again.

And, after the best campaign of his career, ask anyone connected with the Club and they will tell you it genuinely couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Humble and friendly off the pitch, Aké is equally a fierce competitor on it and though he had impressive periods with Chelsea and Bournemouth in the past, the 2022/23 season was the one where everything seemed to fall into place for the 28-year-old.

His first two years at City were dogged by niggling injuries that made it difficult for him to get any momentum together.

In total, he played 40 times between 2020 and 2022 – last season he made 41 appearances – a total more than those first two seasons combined.

And, in a team of world class superstars, Aké made it into the Etihad Player of the Season final three shortlist, polling thousands of votes to finish only behind winner Erling Haaland and runner-up Kevin De Bruyne – a remarkable achievement.

Perhaps a measure of the respect he is held in - not to mention his popularity - was illustrated by the standing ovation Bournemouth fans gave him when he returned to the Vitality Stadium last February.

A breakdown of Ake’s stats for 2022/23 allows a glimpse into just why he has become such an important component of a team that would eventually become champions of England and Europe.

No City player won more duels than Nathan, who triumphed in 72% of such battles.

Even more impressive is his average of 27.4 successful forward passes per 90 minutes – that’s the most of any Premier League player last season – and to coin a famous commentator’s line from the past – he’s the left-back, remember!

He was the fourth highest ranked defender for successful passes made in 90 minutes (72.9) in the Premier League, behind team-mates Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji as well as Brighton’s Lewis Dunk.

His Champions League credentials are superb.

He tops the aerial duels list for the 2022/23 Champions League campaign, winning 14 our 15 and his 76.3% success rate of all duels won is second only to Borussia Dortmund’s Nico Schlotterbeck who is a fraction higher than our versatile Dutch international.

Last, but not least – and in many ways the most outstanding statistic of all – is that Aké averaged 17.5 line-breaking passes per 90 Champions League minutes, which is more than any defender in the competition and second only to midfielders Toni Kroos (22.4) and Marco Verratti (17.6).

That illustrates why he has become integral to Guardiola and why he was named in the starting XI for the Club’s most iconic triumph against Inter.

“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,” commented Guardiola.

‘“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.”

All in all, a remarkable season from a highly respected and popular member of the Manchester City squad.