Nathan Ake

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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.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

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.

Bournemouth carried over the line by ‘fight and belief’

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It wasn’t pretty — at least not in the second half — but Bournemouth had enough “fight and belief” to get themselves over the line for a first-ever win away to Southampton on Friday.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Speaking after the game, Cherries manager Eddie Howe was obviously pleased by the victory in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry, but quickly turned his attention to a list of areas in which his team came up short and was perhaps fortunate to hold onto a 2-1 lead prior to Callum Wilson‘s gifted goal in the 95th minute — quotes from the BBC:

“It was a nice moment. We rarely get those moments in football where you get that pure emotion and joy for a few seconds. Then you start thinking about next week.

“You want the players brought down to earth because you want the focus on consistent success. In the first, half we were okay. We didn’t hit the heights we are capable of. We were scrappy and didn’t keep the ball as well as I wanted, but we had spirit and sometimes that’s the most important thing.

“In the second half, we were reactive and looked tired and that’s where we needed to show our heart to see the game out. There were some heroics from our goalkeeper too.”

As for defender Nathan Ake, scorer of Bournemouth’s first goal, it was all about digging deep for the desire and will to win. The 24-year-old has established himself as one of the first names on Howe’s teamsheet every week at this point.

“It was a very tough game. The fans are buzzing. It was a great three points. The manager said to put the ball in the box.

“It was a great ball and it fell on my head. In the second half, we made it difficult for ourselves. We didn’t keep hold of the ball and had to defend more. The last result against Everton was great so it gives you confidence, but we had to fight and believe we could win.”

Had you offered anyone associated with Bournemouth 10 points from their first six games, they would have snatched your hand off to take them. A thoroughly solid start to the season. Up next is a visit from ninth-place West Ham United next Saturday.

Top 5 players to watch on Deadline Day

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January has seen some familiar names come and go from the Premier League.

[ MORE: Liverpool 1-1 Leicester ]

Mousa Dembele, Gonzalo Higuain, and Alvaro Morata are on the list, and some others will likely join them on a frantic deadline day.

We’ll keep are eyes trained for the specific names below…


Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.

Idrissa Gana Gueye, Everton — The poor man’s N'Golo Kante, Everton’s mighty midfielder has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain for much of the January window. Rumors that Marco Silva would leave the club if a sale is made sound a bit much, but Gana is a real treat for any club.

Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea — Subject to massive bids from Bayern Munich, relatively speaking, the Blues’ youngster was not in the 18 for Chelsea’s 4-0 loss at Bournemouth on Wednesday.

Yannick Carrasco, Dalian Yifang — The Belgian winger is just 25, and a year removed from a $30-plus million move from Atletico Madrid to China. Linked with Arsenal and AC Milan.

Miguel Almiron, Atlanta United — He’s been photographed on Tyneside and Atlanta needs to sell him. Given the club’s stingy ownership, though, we’ll believe the signing has happened when Newcastle United announces the move and shows a photo of him in black and white.

Nathan Ake, Bournemouth — Why would Bournemouth sell the center back? Because they may have to, with rumors of a buyback clause in his contract following a Chelsea sale 18 months ago.

BONUS: Eden Hazard, ChelseaAnd by extension, Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea is going to want to cash in on Hazard should he not sign a new deal, and his value tomorrow is going to be higher than it will be at any point in the next 18 months (his contract with Chelsea expires in the summer of 2019). Real Madrid needs a jolt, and so does Chelsea. Changing managers again won’t do it. Sure, it’s a wild idea… but watch him anyway.

Reports: Chelsea may activate Ake buyback; Gueye wanted by PSG

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Bournemouth and Everton are in the headlines for reasons other than the Toffees’ 2-0 defeat of the Cherries at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Both sides are being mentioned in Sky Sports transfer centre as potential sellers of lynchpins, which makes the rumors both eyebrow-raising and differing degrees of unlikely.

[ MORE: Southgate, Simeone on Man Utd list ]

One seems wildly amiss, with Paris Saint-Germain linked with a $51 million bid for Toffees midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye (although could Marco Silva use the dough to bring in ol’ Watford pal Abdoulaye Doucoure? We digress).

The box-to-box giant would certainly help PSG boss Thomas Tuchel in his bid to succeed in the Champions League, but the money would seemingly have to be higher for Everton to consider selling a key part of Marco Silva’s attack-first XI.

The same fee is being quoted for Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake, though the Cherries might have no recourse if the 23-year-old Dutchman fancies a return to Stamford Bridge.

Sold in 2017 after a successful loan stint at the Vitality Stadium, Ake has played 60 times between the loan and permanent stints with Eddie Howe but reportedly has a $51m buyback clause in the deal.

For what it’s worth, we’re now seeing why Real Madrid and Barcelona are putting ungodly release clauses in contracts for players; Eight deals sealed by Premier League clubs this summer and fall are worth more than Ake’s release clause, which would’ve been a Top Two or Three transfer fee for a defender fee when he was signed. Now it’d be sixth.