BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks has called for Frank Lampard to consider making a move to sign AFC Bournemouth centre-half Nathan Ake, two years after Chelsea sold the Dutchman to the Cherries.
Ake joined Chelsea’s academy from Feyenoord’s in 2011, but made just 12 first-team appearances for the West London outfit (TransferMarkt), before joining Eddie Howe’s Vitality Stadium natives on an initial one-season loan deal in 2016.
Antonio Conte later recalled the Den Haag-born defender early (BBC), but Ake would make just five more outings for the Blues, despite the Italian head coach claiming his return to Stamford Bridge would present options at the back.
Bournemouth paid a then club-record £20million (Telegraph) to sign Ake permanently in the summer of 2017, after returning to Stamford Bridge looking to strike a deal once Chelsea wrapped up the Premier League title.
Ake now has 97 appearances to his name for the Cherries across all competitions, and marked his most recent Premier League outing with a headed goal away to south coast rivals Southampton – his tenth goal under Howe.
Crooks was left mightily impressed by the Dutch international’s role in Bournemouth’s win at St Mary’s, and has called on Lampard to sound out the potential of Ake making a return to Stamford Bridge without being an opposition player.
“The shot of Nathan Ake suspended in mid-air having attacked a set-piece and buried a bullet header past Angus Gunn in Southampton’s goal was a picture to behold,” Crooks noted in his weekly column for BBC Sport.
“It was not only Bournemouth’s first goal in a historic win against their south coast rivals, but a clear indication that the Cherries meant business.
“I don’t know what Ake would cost for Chelsea to buy him back, but if I was them, I would seriously consider it.”
Chelsea were linked with a move to re-sign Ake over the summer (Telegraph), with suggestions that Lampard could target the 24-year-old should he feel he is lacking defensive support once the Blues’ transfer ban lifts, having allowed David Luiz to join Arsenal in August.
The Stamford Bridge side would be able to sign Ake for £40m if the Cherries star is open to returning to West London, too, thanks to a clause inserted in the agreement that saw the centre-half join Bournemouth permanently.
At that price, Chelsea would be pulling off a sizable scoop, as Howe’s Cherries valued Ake at £75m this summer once Manchester United purchased Harry Maguire for £85m, and his market value will only grow if he has another season to remember.
As for making a mark at Stamford Bridge under Lampard, though, that would remain to be seen, as he would be competing for minutes with Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma.
Zouma enjoyed a strong season while on loan with Everton last term leading to manager Marco Silva targeting him permanently (BBC), but has struggled back at Stamford Bridge in the current campaign, resulting in Lampard benching the Frenchman against Wolves and Liverpool (TransferMarkt), only to rely on the 24-year-old following injuries to Rudiger and Christensen.
Ake, like Zouma, has been impressive away from West London, but can he repeat that at Stamford Bridge?
Across his 38 appearances in the Premier League last season, Ake averaged 1.7 tackles per ninety minutes, 0.8 interceptions, 6.1 clearances and 1.6 blocks according to WhoScored data, and is currently matching his averages for tackles and bettering his interceptions (2.3) so far this term.
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