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Prodigal son Nathan Ake could be the missing piece for Frank Lampard’s youth revolution

Nathan Ake


Prodigal son Nathan Ake could be the missing piece for Frank Lampard’s youth revolution

Chelsea won another thrilling victory this weekend, with Frank Lampard’s team scoring freely, but once again unable to shut the game down.

Another comfortable lead was let slip, although this time the Blues managed to escape with all three points. The lack of defensive solidity can partly be attributed to the absence of N’Golo Kante and the departure at half time of Antonio Rudiger, but most fans would also concede there’s a need for more quality and experience at centre back.
The recent departures of players like David Luiz and Gary Cahill have created vacancies at the back that returning loanees Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori have tried to fill, but there’s no doubt that a commanding and experienced centre back would probably be the biggest instant upgrade you could give this team.

Frank Lampard changed to a back three for this game, a move which did initially provide more stability, but once Rudiger had left injured and the three younger defenders were on the pitch, holes began to show, especially once energy levels dropped further forward and the high press from the attackers eased off.

It has been suggested in places like the Daily Star that Chelsea are interested in re-signing Nathan Ake, the young Holland international who was in our academy for several years. He’s been excellent ever since moving to Bournemouth in 2017, and had another chance to impressed in the televised early kick-off against Everton on Sunday.

Any Chelsea fans watching on in the hope of glimpsing what they might see from a returning Ake will have been impressed with how he compared with his peers still wearing Blue shirts. The Cherries were under pressure from Everton’s dangerous attacking three from the very start, but Ake’s calmness at the back helped them weather the storm.

He is excellent on the ball, and was able to help his team work their way back into the game through the first half. The goal that they scored after 20 minutes could easily have been his, but Callum Wilson nipped ahead of the defender to head home the loose ball in the Everton box.

From there the home side were able to sit deeper, and they continued to rely on Ake’s excellent positioning to see them through to half time. His excellent clearance just before the 30 minute mark eased the pressure just as Marco Silva’s team looked like levelling things up. In the end the Toffees did get their breakthrough before half time – but Ake was not to blame. As he covered the near post, a high cross was floated over him to the far side, where Dom Calvert-Lewin used his height and a monster leap to tower above Steve Cook and Jack Stacey and head home.

The clean sheet was gone, but from a purely individual point of view, Ake’s performance remained impeccable. In the second half he was isolated several times against the tricky Richarlison, who has strength and speed and a clever touch. Every time it seemed like the defender was going to be in trouble he won it cleanly and was able to get back to his defensive line. When Bournemouth scored again in the 66th minute, his work was cut out – see out the final 25 minutes and take all three points. When his team added a third just minutes later, it became even clearer.

This is the point at which Frank Lampard teams have been struggling – heading into the final third of the game a couple of goals to the good.

If Chelsea want to sign him, they may have to move quickly. Manchester City have long been linked with the defender with Pep Guardiola in charge, and having lost Aymeric Laporte this season to a knee injury, their lack of depth and centre-back has been exposed. It could well be that they bid for the 24 year old as soon as January.

It would be a shame to see him go. He seems like a great fit for Chelsea, both as a player and as a personality, and bringing him home would be an excellent move by the club. We have our own talented young players in the position, and Fikayo Tomori reminded us of that on Saturday, but we can always be looking to improve, especially when a former academy player is on the market.

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