Nathan Ake was one of the bigger success stories of last season's Chelsea Loan Army, establishing himself as the first-choice left back at Watford and helping the newly promoted side to a solid mid-table finish in the Premier League. He did so well in fact that he won the club's Young Player of the Year award.
For a player already regarded as a jack of all trades, master of none at such, it was a fantastic step forward, proving that he can indeed hold down a starting position at a top division side and not just be consigned to a journeyman future of being an eternal backup at various positions in defense and midfield.
Ake looked ready to take the next step, but despite sub-standard options at full back for Chelsea, the 21-year-old was once again sent out on loan, with the express intent to get him some midfield experience, as per Conte's request. A disappointing turn of events in many respects, but not nearly as disappointing as the fact that Ake has barely seen the pitch so far in his time at AFC Bournemouth.
While he has started both of their League Cup games, in the league he's amassed a grand total of 13 minutes in two substitute appearances. Frustrating, to say the least.
"I wanted to draw a line under last season, but that has not yet happened."
"The competition at my club is great. For now I'm still on the bench. It eats you, I want to play every week."
-Nathan Ake; source: VI via Evening Standard
When Ake joined the Cherries in July, he spoke of an "instant connection" he felt with head coach Eddie Howe. Alas, things don't always work out as we initially might expect. Still, it's just October and there's plenty of time for Ake to work his way into the starting lineup. Howe has recently urged patience not only with Ake but several other young players in his squad. We shall see if that ever amounts to anything...