When Chelsea sold defender Nathan Aké to Bournemouth for a “paltry” £20 million fee last summer — which was still the Cherries’ club record purchase — there were suspicions that there was more than meets the eye in the deal. Those suspicions may be confirmed soon.
Aké has generally made good on the investment and faith showed by Bournemouth, and those performances have led to interest from top sides like Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. But according to the Telegraph, Chelsea actually “hold the cards” in this case, with a “gentlemen’s agreement” in place for a first option. If Bournemouth were to receive a bid for Aké, it would “force” them to offer Chelsea the opportunity to make a move as well. Unlike most first-option clauses, which grant the opportunity to match a bid, this option also functions as a sort of buyback clause, with a price set at £40m.
That the clause is not actually official is a bit concerning, though of course Chelsea would have to actually want to make a move in the first place, and Aké himself would have to then choose the Blues over all others.
Meanwhile, the report also mentions off-hand that Chelsea have similar agreements over Nathaniel Chalobah and Bertrand Traoré. The latter was widely reported at the time — also a gentlemen’s agreement as buyback clauses are not allowed by the French FA — and the former was assumed given the low-low £5m bargain that Watford got on the older of the Chalobahs.
Chelsea have made good on a similar arrangement at least once already in the case of Nemanja Matić — while passing in others, like Thorgan Hazard and Jeffrey Bruma — so it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that we’d see either Aké, Nat, or Bert in Chelsea blue yet. Given the outrageous prices in the transfer market, chances may even be good.