Coming from a successful season-long loan spell at Watford in which he claimed the club's Young Player of the Year award, young Chelsea defender Nathan Aké is now set to take the Premier League stage at AFC Bournemouth. He will be joining their ranks to work with manager Eddie Howe, who was key in convincing Aké that the Cherries were his best option amidst other suitors.
"There was other interest in the summer. I came and spoke to [manager] Eddie [Howe] here and he gave me a lot of confidence, he talked about his plans on the pitch and I think we are quite similar, we both like to work hard. I felt there was a connection there and basically, I decided straight away [that] I wanted to come here."
Last season, Aké featured as the first-choice left back for Watford, helping the Hornets remain comfortably in the league with a 13th place finish and 45 points. But despite his success on the left flank of Watford's defensive line, Aké still sees himself as a holding midfielder.
"I can play in different positions. I like to get on the ball defensively [and] play hard, with tackles and things like that. I think I am a holding midfielder, when I came to Chelsea I played as a centre back but then was told I was too small.
"So I changed to left back and then to midfield, I've been going around in circles! But last year I played left back but my preferred position is holding midfield."
Aké joined Bournemouth on June 29, one week before the start of their pre-season activities. The young Dutchman hopes that arriving early at the club will be helpful in his adaptation to the club, and looks forward to helping the team in their quest to improve on last season's 16th place finish.
"It's really good to join at the start of the summer so I have more time to get to know everyone and the way of playing. Last year, I joined Watford a month or two in and it helps a lot that I'm here now - I'm really excited for the new season."
"It's difficult to say after day one but the main aim is to do better than last season, hopefully this season we can do that. It will be an exciting challenge."
-Nathan Aké; source: AFC Bournemouth
While it's a bit disappointing to not have Ake join Chelsea for at least the pre-season, setting him up for success at his next loan should take priority. Maybe next year he will be deemed good enough to re-join Chelsea?