Nathan Ake has followed in the footsteps of Ryan Bertrand, Oriol Romeu and Kevin De Bruyne by fleeing Stamford Bridge to forge a brighter future at AFC Bournemouth.
The Dutchman was captured by Chelsea in 2011, and packed his bags to leave Rotterdam for London at just 16-years-old. It was a very brave decision for such a young person, but he believed that the move would launch him onto the main stage in the Premier League.
Ake fast-tracked his way into the senior squad, and was voted Chelsea’s Young Player of the Season at the end of the 2012/13 campaign, after making six appearances in all competitions. However, Mourinho was less enthusiastic about the Dutchman when he arrived for his second spell in 2013, and reduced him to just one appearance in the 2013/14 season.
Reading offered him a destination to showcase his talent in a brief one-month loan spell in April 2015. Ake was still regularly being deployed as a central defensive midfielder, but he was also capable of playing at either centre-back or left-back. This appealed to a variety of clubs in England, and Ake completed a season-long loan move to Premier League club Watford in August 2015.
Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores primarily played Ake at left-back. He flourished with regular playing opportunities and finished the 2015/16 season as Watford’s Young Player of the Season. Antonio Conte overlooked his achievements at Vicarage Road, and immediately offloaded him to AFC Bournemouth on a season-long loan shortly after his arrival at Stamford Bridge.
Ake switched to a centre-back role at Dean Court, and began to thrive in his new role until Chelsea recalled him from his loan spell in January 2017. He was enjoying life at Bournemouth, scoring the winner in their famous comeback victory against Liverpool, but Ake had new aspirations of breaking into The Blues’ starting line-up on his return.
Unfortunately, Ake was unable to gain a regular place in the starting line-up, and only featured sparingly in the FA Cup. It was a disgraceful act from Chelsea to disrupt a young player impressing on loan, and recalling him with little intention of playing him.
AFC Bournemouth signed Nathan Ake on a permanent basis in July 2017 for a club-record fee of £20 million, but Chelsea inserted a buy-back clause for the player later in the month. Ake could now play his football without any disruptions, and he’s become a pivotal figure at Dean Court.
His performances have received notoriety on the international stage, and Ake earned 3 caps for the Dutch National Team in 2017. He has a unique calmness on the ball, which has led to him being compared to fellow Dutch legend Ruud Gullit, and he’s amazingly managed to record two assists from centre-back this season.
According to WhoScored, Ake has averaged 6.2 clearances per match and a passing percentage of 83.2% in the Premier League. He contributes an offensive threat combined with his defensive qualities, and compliments his no-nonsense and old-fashioned central defensive partner Steve Cook.
Nathan Ake escaped from an uncertain future at Stamford Bridge, and is reaping the benefits at his new home in the South Coast of England. More playing time will enhance his opportunities at international level, and improve his development as a player to help him fulfil his true potential.