Nathan Ake

Nathan Ake Manchester United
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Transfer news: Ake to Man United; Rice to Chelsea

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In the latest transfer news Nathan Ake has been linked with a move to Manchester United, while Declan Rice could be heading back to Chelsea.

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Starting in Manchester, a post-game chat between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nathan Ake has turned heads following Man United’s 5-2 win against Bournemouth at the weekend.

Apparently Solskjaer told Ake: “We need a left-footed centre-back, so keep going.”

Ake, 25, has been linked with a return to Chelsea (who have a $48 million buy-back clause) and Manchester City, but it appears Nathan Ake to Manchester United has some legs. Solskjaer has been looking for a new center back with Kalidou Koulibaly, Dayot Upamecano and others linked to line up alongside Harry Maguire.

Victor Lindelof has struggled at times and is ahead of Eric Bailly in the pecking order and Man United do need to strengthen their defense slightly as they have plenty of options in midfield and attack, although a new true holding midfield could be a must in the next few windows.

If Bournemouth are relegated from the Premier League, Ake will surely leave and Man United could pick him up for a lot less than $48 million.

Declan Rice to Chelsea
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Switching to west London, Declan Rice could be heading back to Chelsea this summer.

A report from The Times states that Chelsea want Rice, 21, to return and become a ball-playing center back to shore up their defensive unit.

The report goes on to state that the boyhood Chelsea fan is seen as the perfect successor to John Terry at the heart of the Chelsea defense.

Rice has shone in recent weeks and is the one player in West Ham’s team who has been consistent despite their struggles at the wrong end of the Premier League table this season.

Chelsea have been searching high and low for defensive reinforcements and want more power and strength at center back. Rice can play at center back and in a three he would be prefect. His main position is in holding midfield and his flexibility to strengthen Chelsea’s shaky defense would be key. Rice is close friends with Mason Mount and after leaving Chelsea’s academy as a 14-year-old he has forged out a very good career for himself as a regular for West Ham and England.

Rice would cost a huge sum and this move to Chelsea may hinge on whether or not West Ham are relegated in the final weeks of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

Newcastle clobbers woeful, worried Bournemouth

Bournemouth - Newcastle recap
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Allan Saint-Maximin’s three-assist day helped Newcastle United punis poor Bournemouth with a 4-1 battering Wednesday at the Vitality Stadium.

The Magpies’ French revelation set up goals from Dwight Gayle, Sean Longstaff, and Miguel Almiron and Jonjo Shelvey cued up Valentino Lazaro for another in sending Newcastle to 42 points and 13th place.

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Dan Gosling scored late for Bournemouth, who is in big trouble. The Cherries’ goal differential now puts them bottom of the three sides on 27 points. The Cherries sit 19th with six matches to play.


Three things we learned

1. The stage belongs to ASM: There are few players in the league as clever and magnet-booted as Saint-Maximin, who finally got finishers on the end of his wizardry. Newcastle will struggle to keep hold of the 23-year-old, who has cast aside the character concerns that came with him from Ligue 1.

2. Bournemouth looks lost: The Cherries are only in the Premier League safety picture due to the horrid displays of teams around them. The four goals conceded weigh heavily on Eddie Howe’s men, who have to hope Watford, West Ham, and Villa all struggle and split points with each other down the stretch. Bournemouth’s last six games are no cakewalk: Manchester United, Spurs, Leicester City, Man City, Southampton, and Everton.

3. Almiron adjusted: Atlanta United’s Paraguayan export took some time to find his finishing touch in the Premier League. He looked bright but without end product for Rafa Benitez this year, then really struggled to start life under Steve Bruce. He’s looking the part again and scored his seventh goal in all comps this season.

That said, Bournemouth would’ve done well to challenge the ball here, yeah?

Man of the Match

Saint-Maximin. The Frenchman has completed more dribbles per game than anyone not named Adama Traore.


Bournemouth – Newcastle recap

The Magpies struck early when Gayle took a Saint-Maximin pass and finished with class inside the near post, a much harder finish than the sitter he missed against Man City in an FA Cup quarterfinal on Sunday.

It was 2-0 through Longstaff, who slammed home a shot from the heart of the 18 after Saint-Maximin dribbled the left side of the box into submission.

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Almiron was there for 3-0, taking the ball from Saint-Maximin and scoring a classy effort after dribbling into the box.

Lazaro’s first Premier League goal wads Newcastle’s fourth of the day, taking a Shelvey feed to punish Aaron Ramsdale.

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It could’ve been 5-0 when Nabil Bentaleb smashed the wood work and the rebound wobbled to an offside Isaac Hayden to pop over the bar

Ramsdale made a fine save on Andy Carroll in stoppage time to keep the line 4-0.

Bournemouth did not trouble Martin Dubravka until their stoppage-time goal, ex-Magpie midfielder Gosling pushing Ake’s flicked ball over the line.

Before that were five shots blocked with another five missing the target.

Ranking every Bournemouth player

Bournemouth
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The Cherries of Bournemouth have struggled this season, beset by injuries to promising players like David Brooks and Chris Mepham as well as a sea of defenders.

There still have been stars of the show, including an imported midfielder and a second-year man bouncing back from a tough debut season at the Vitality Stadium.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Below we give each Bournemouth player a grade, ranking and group them together based on their season(s) so far.

If a Bournemouth player is listed in this ranking it is because they’ve played in more than five games in all competitions.


A-GRADE

Philip Billing: A wrecking ball who’s in danger of manning the midfield in a relegated team for the second-straight season. And, again, it would not be his fault. Team-leading 65 tackles for the club’s easy POTY.

Nathan Ake: We’re still stunned Chelsea didn’t activate his buyback clause in January. A complete defender who’s completed more than 88 percent of his passes.

Diego Rico: A down season in 2018-19 did him no justice, as Rico’s been very good and replicating numbers he turned in for Leganes between 2016-18.

Steve Cook: Has done a good job considering the myriad injuries at the back for Eddie Howe’s Cherries.


B-GRADE

Chris Mepham: Lots to like about the 22-year-old’s step forward before a long-term knee injury. Leads team with 5.6 clearances.

Aaron Ramsdale: First-year starting goalkeeper has had some strong displays.

Harry Wilson: Liverpool loanee scored seven times before December including a brace versus Spurs but has cooled off considerably.

Joshua King: It’s finishing not creation that’s the problem for the four-goal man, who leads the club in dribbles per game with 2.2

Simon Francis
Jack Stacey

Joshua King of AFC Bournemouth (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

C-GRADE

Jefferson Lerma: Was trending upward when the season paused in March, getting a goal versus Chelsea and assist at Liverpool (though those followed a red versus Villa).

Callum Wilson: Still had his finishing boots shined up for eight goals, but dipped from nine assists to zero.

Dan Gosling: Memorable goals against Arsenal and Chelsea for the former Newcastle man who missed the first 11 matches of the season with a hip injury.

Lewis Cook
Arnaut Groeneveld
Adam Smith


D-GRADE

Ryan Fraser: Mighty disappointing. It’s like his head was turned in the summer and got stuck. Does lead team in key passes per game with 1.6, but to dip from seven goals and 14 assists to 1+4 is… (tugs on collar).

Junior Stanislas: Nothing much yet after missing half of the season with a knee injury.

Dominic Solanke: One goal from 28 matches in all comps is not legendary for a center forward.

Andrew Surman


INCOMPLETE/FAILED TO MAKE MIN. APPEARANCES

Mark Travers, Sam Surridge, Jack Simpson, Charlie Daniels, Jordon Ibe, David Brooks.

David Brooks (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Chelsea opt not to sign Ake despite buy-back option

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Chelsea have ended their interest in Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake — for now, at least — despite holding a $52-million buy-back option on the former Blues defender.

[ MORE: Inter Milan still chasing January deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Ake, who has shone ever so brightly for Bournemouth over the last 18 months, would fetch a transfer fee much closer to $100 million in any transfer not involving a pre-negotiated fee.

Chelsea have been looking at Ake as one of a number of options since having their transfer ban reduced ahead of the January transfer window, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Lukaku continues tear with goal in opening 20 seconds (video) ]

Of course, the possibility of re-acquiring Ake at a heavily discounted price — should the Cherries ultimately be relegated from the Premier League — certainly exists, and could very well be part of Chelsea’s plan for a long-term defensive rebuild. The only potential problem that could create is that other clubs would then be able to do the same, assuming Chelsea and Bournemouth haven’t also negotiated a (smaller) buy-back fee in the event of relegation.

Keita powers Liverpool past injury-hit Bournemouth

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Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah each had a goal and an assist as Liverpool blew out Bournemouth 3-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

There was some bad news in the mix for both team’s already injury-hit center back corps: Nathan Ake and Dejan Lovren both left the match early.

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Its lead over Leicester City is back up to 11 points before the Foxes play at 9 a.m. ET Sunday, while Man City is 14 behind the Reds before Saturday afternoon’s Manchester Derby.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored Liverpool’s first goal of the win.


Three things we learned

1. Keita shoots his shot (literally and figuratively): When Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool captured Naby Keita, it felt like the beginning of something special. Instead it’s been fits and starts, with plenty of reports saying struggles with the language and the system might be holding hims back.

Well, if he’s back to his Leipzig-infused best, then look out world, because Keita was simply marvelous in his first PL start of the season. He had his goal and his assist, combining so well with Salah, but also completed 89 of 94 passes, 110 touches, three key passes, five of eight duels won, three tackles, and two interceptions.

2. Ake injury a huge hit: Nathan Ake has been a force for a poor Cherries side this season, and his injury did not look good. With Chelsea now able to buy players and possessing a buyback clause on their former stud, was this the last we saw of the Dutchman in a Bournemouth jersey? It could be the difference between Bournemouth staying comfortably midtable and dipping into the relegation zone.

3. Lovren injury a worry: Whether Lovren misses a long time or just a bit is still a problem for the Reds, who are going to be taxed heavily with Joel Matip already out and matches all over the world in the coming weeks.

Remember that Liverpool isn’t yet through to the Champions League knockout rounds, and that Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez could need to play every minute including Tuesday’s massive trip to dangerous Red Bull Salzburg. The good news, of course, is that Joe Gomez at his best has not been a downgrade from Lovren.

Man of the Match: Keita.


Bournemouth had a moment in the 26th miniute, Dominic Solanke unable to find a deflected cross that worried Adrian.

The Cherries lost their best player to injury, and that seemingly opened the doors at the back. Nathan Ake was felled by a muscle strain.

Moments later, Oxlade-Chamberlain got on the end of a Jordan Henderson long ball and took advantage of a sleeping Aaron Ramsdale to make it 1-0.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The visitors made a sub soon after the goal, Dejan Lovren exiting for Trent Alexander-Arnold to send Joe Gomez to center back.

That’s when the Reds got their second goal from Keita, via Salah’s lovely pass.

A bad mistake from debutant Jack Simpson allowed Keita to cue up Salah for a return gift, the Egyptian calmly slotting past a struggling Ramsdale.