Chelsea look set to welcome another defender to their squad this month, with the club keen to add to their defensive options.
It appears that Antonio Conte will continue to favour playing young players over external recruitment with the Italian manager seemingly set to recall Nathan Ake from his loan at Bournemouth.
Ake has been brilliant during his loan spell at Bournemouth so far, and with Conte now deploying a 3 at the back formation, Chelsea would really benefit from having another central defender in the squad. Despite the clubs overall good defensive displays, Gary Cahill has come under a fair amount of criticism and Ake may have his eyes on displacing the Englishman.
Another option would be to shift Cesar Azpilicueta to the right or left wing-back role and then bring Ake into central defence. Crucially Ake’s recall will give the club more options and more depth.
Bournemouth boss Howe said Ake’s exit was “not 100% finalised yet”. But in saying that, all but confirmed that he would be heading back to the capital.
He told BBC Radio Solent: “It would be a huge blow to us as he’s done so well. It is easier said than to done to say we are going to go and recruit a player of a similar stature to Nathan.”
Chelsea will now be negotiating with Bournemouth for a cancellation fee, as it is likely they will have to pay one due to cutting the season-long-loan deal short.
Howe added: “I am not sure there are too many out there, hence why Chelsea would recall him. With Simon Francis’s suspension and Marc Pugh’s injury and now Nathan going back, our defensive resources are certainly stretched.”
Ake turns 22 next month and will hope to continue his progression this season at Chelsea. The player is also capable of playing in midfield and at left back, so his versatility will certainly come in handy for the club.
In 10 Premier League appearances Ake has netted 3 goals, highlighting his ability to attack well and make the most of opportunities in the other box. For his height, he’s very good in the air, winning on average 2.07 per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season. He’s also won an impressive 1.82 tackles per 90.
An energetic defender, Ake has also made 1.22 interceptions per 90. He’s a defender that is more than capable of playing out from the back and his pass completion of 88% highlights that.
Summer signing David Luiz has really excelled in the defence since re-joining the club, but with Cahill now 31, could Ake be the England international’s long-term replacement? He’ll certainly hope so.
What is refreshing to see is a manager that is willing to give young players a chance, and Conte seems to be doing just that.