Nathan Ake

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Bournemouth completes record signing of Chelsea’s Ake

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Bournemouth has signed their man, officially.

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The Cherries announced on Friday that the club has agreed to terms on a deal with Chelsea defender Nathan Ake, who becomes Bournemouth’s richest signing in Premier League history.

It’s being reported that the transfer fee was in excess of $25 million, however, neither club has confirmed that number.

“I had a great time here last season so I’m really happy to be back,” said Ake.

“It’s an exciting challenge. Chelsea is a great club and I learned so much there but this is a new step and the right place for me to develop even more.

Ake made 12 appearances for Bournemouth last season in the Premier League while on loan from the Blues, including netting three goals in that span from his outside back position.

The Cherries had been heavily pursuing Ake since he was recalled from his loan during the second half of the 2016/17 season.

Conte preparing Ake to start against Spurs with Cahill sidelined

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With Gary Cahill sidelined due to injury and outgoing club legend John Terry unlikely to get the starting nod, Antonio Conte appears to have found a suitable replacement for Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal.

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The Chelsea manager believes that Nathan Ake, who recently returned to the club from a loan spell with Bournemouth, will be ready to fill the void left by Cahill when the Blues face Tottenham at Wembley Stadium.

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Ake, 22, has been in the Chelsea system since joining the club’s youth academy in 2011, but now could be the Dutchman’s big opportunity to make an impression after having previously only making 14 appearances over four seasons.

“Ake thinks he deserves to have this chance to play,” Conte said. “He is showing me his all in this period, always great commitment. He worked very hard. His behaviour was great, was fantastic, and he never told anything.

“Don’t forget that Ake was playing every game with Bournemouth, and he wanted to come and to stay with us to try to work together and to help us to fight for the title.

During his time with Bournemouth this season, Ake has greatly impressed. In 12 appearances across all competitions, the young defender had notched three goals prior to being recalled by Chelsea earlier this week.

Conte added: “I think he’s a good player, I think he’s ready to have this opportunity, to have this chance, he deserves this opportunity and I trust him. I have no problem to take this decision.

“I think for this position Ake has the right characteristic to be the substitute for Gary.”

Why the heck did Chelsea recall Nathan Ake?

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It’s tough to criticize much about Chelsea’s spectacular season, and whether they end up winning the title or not, Antonio Conte has been wildly successful at turning around the doldrums of Jose Mourinho’s final year at Stamford Bridge and setting sail towards more fruitful waters.

There is one puzzling decision, however, that may have a major impact on their future.

With captain John Terry announcing he will be leaving the club at the end of the season and Gary Cahill still one of the most overrated players in the Premier League, there has been a need to prepare new blood in the Chelsea defense for years. The club is keenly aware of this fact and has been for years, evident by the 2014 purchase and careful preening of Kurt Zouma.

Nathan Ake is another defender the club has been grooming for years, since they grabbed him as a teenager in the Feyenoord system all the way back in 2011. This season, Ake was loaned to Bournemouth – remember that?

Ake was a big reason why the Cherries had a fantastic first half of the season, finishing the calendar year in 10th, a fine position for a team that escaped relegation last year by the slimmest of margins. He scored three goals in 10 Premier League appearances for the Cherries and brought to the table a fresh defensive prowess at the CB position, a spot that is relatively new to the Dutchman after spending much of his career to this point as a full-back (he played left-back for much of his time on loan at Watford last campaign).

Then, the Blues decided to bring all the progression to a screeching halt, recalling the 22-year-old back to his parent club, where he proceeded to find himself immediately out of the first-team squad. Since returning to Chelsea, he hasn’t seen a single Premier League minute, only finding a spot on the bench five times in 12 games. He has only earned a pair of starts in FA Cup action, keeping a clean sheet against both Brentford and Wolves.

Simply look to Bournemouth’s defensive woes since Ake’s departure to realize just how far he has come. With the Dutch defender on the roster, they conceded 29 goals in 19 matches, not a great total but for the attacking style the Cherries practice, a solid number, one that had them into the top half for much of the 2016 calendar year. Since Ake’s recall, Bournemouth has conceded 29 goals in just 13 games, and the club has dropped down to 16th in the table, looking to stave off relegation yet again.

It’s possible Chelsea wanted the cover Ake provided as Cahill and David Luiz racked up the minutes, but for a team only competing on the League and FA Cup fronts, there is no fixture congestion to navigate. If they truly needed the cover, they would never have loaned him out in the first place. Nothing had changed on the defensive depth chart between August and January.

Ake was obviously loaned out in the summer to aid his development, and he was developing beautifully with his loads of first-team action at Dean Court. So why, with a need for young, title-challenging central defenders in the immediate future, did Chelsea bring Ake to simply shove him back into the depths of the Cobham training ground? We won’t know the impact of the recall until years down the road when Ake is called upon – if ever – but on the surface, this appears to be a decision that makes little sense, and one that could drastically affect the club’s future, even costing them millions should the need arise to purchase a top-level defender rather than use the internal option whose growth may be irreparably stunted.

Big blow for Bournemouth as Chelsea recalls Ake

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Nathan Ake has been a big reason for Bournemouth’s success in the Premier League, and now the Cherries will have to do it without him.

Ake, 21, joined Chelsea from Feyenoord in 2011 but has taken loan stints at Reading, Watford, and Bournemouth.

[ MORE: Terry sent off in win ]

The last two saw the wide man make distinct impressions on his loan clubs, but Antonio Conte didn’t need to see any more to know he could use the Dutchman at Chelsea.

Ake is Bournemouth’s top-rated player on the advanced stats site WhoScored, and miles ahead of the nearest Cherry in Squawka’s per-game ratings.

He projects as a midfielder in Conte’s 3-5-2, and perhaps last week’s off day for Victor Moses inspired the move.

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Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool: Ryan Fraser sparks Cherries to stunning comeback

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It’s never easy for Premier League minnows Bournemouth, but somehow they always seem to show up in the biggest moments.

Substitute Ryan Fraser, on for an injured Junior Stanislas in the 55th minute, made all the difference. He assisted two and scored one as he sparked the Cherries to an exciting comeback, winning 4-3 on a late goal by Nathan Ake deep into stoppage time. While Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc made a pair of early mistakes that led to visiting goals, Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius spilled one that saw Ake snatch the winner.

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Out of the gates, Liverpool maintained a firm control over the game through the opening 10 minutes. The spell of possession earned them the game’s first chance on 10 minutes as Origi missed a sitter, delivered by Nathaniel Clyne on the right edge of the penalty area low beating defender Steve Cook to Origi right in front of net, but sliding to meet the ball he bundled the chance and it trickled wide.

That would be rectified 10 minutes later as Liverpool would steal a pair of goals in the blink of an eye. In the 20th minute, a ball over the top from Emre Can met a streaking Mane who blistered past a hapless Nathan Ake and bagged the opener. It appeared that Ake expected goalkeeper Artur Boruc to come off his line and assist. That would be relevant as just three minutes later, a horrific mistake by Boruc saw Origi in as the goalkeeper came way off his line all the way to the right edge of the penalty area to challenge the Liverpool youngster, but Origi easily touched passed Boruc and finished from an incredibly tight angle to put Liverpool 2-0 up.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Bournemouth seemingly had a way back in when Roberto Firmino appeared to trip Ake at the top of the penalty area, but with referee Bobby Madley starting straight at it, he waved off the penalty shout. Following that moment, the hosts proved themselves in the flow of the game, holding a number of decent spells of possession up to halftime.

Out of the break, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe brought on former Liverpool youngster Jordon Ibe, and the boss was forced into a change not 10 minutes later with Stanislas needing a replacement in Fraser. Not a minute on the pitch, Fraser made an impact as he was bumped to the ground by James Milner in the box, and Bournemouth had themselves a penalty, which Callum Wilson finished cooly to give the Cherries a lifeline.

The referee had to talk Jurgen Klopp off the ledge with the Liverpool manager losing his mind moments after the penalty, as Bobby Madley and fourth official Stuart Atwell told him no more antics or he’d be off. That spurned Liverpool to a response, and Mane produced a brilliant run on ball into the box, cutting towards the middle before feeding Emre Can for a one-timer that he buried into the top corner for a 3-1 lead just past the hour mark.

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The Reds needed goalkeeper Lorius Karius to keep out Fraser in the 70th minute with a shot from straight on tipped over the bar. They came as close to a fourth as physically possible without scoring moments later as Milner nearly scored directly off a corner, but goal-line technology showed that Boruc caught the in-swinger with literally a hair of the ball still on the line.

Bournemouth again pulled within a goal with an incisive counter-attack with 14 minutes left, this time with Fraser on the end of a cutback from substitute Benik Afobe. The goal, the 22-year-old’s first in Premier League play, sent Bournemouth away bursting with confidence, and they came right back down to equalize. A cross by Fraser found Cook standing tall at the spot, where he collected, turned, and poked home for a 3-3 scoreline.

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With Liverpool on roller skates, Bournemouth pushed for a winner the whole way through five added minutes, and they’d get it a minute from the final whistle with a deep drive by Steve Cook spilled by Karius, and Ake was there to poke home, needing a pair of touches to get it over the line past a helpless Liverpool goalkeeper.

The win, Bournemouth’s first ever over Liverpool in league play, sees the Cherries jump into the top half of the table on 18 points, sliding past Watford into 10th. Meanwhile, a stunned Liverpool loses ground on the top, with both Arsenal and Chelsea winning on Saturday, leaving Liverpool four points off the top in third with 30 points.