Eddie Howe is hopeful that Bournemouth will not lose the services of Nathan Ake during next month's transfer window. The versatile Dutchman, who joined the Cherries on a season-long loan from Chelsea in June, has finally secured a regular starting berth at Dean Court and demonstrated his quality on Sunday (18 December) by netting a terrific header that gave his adopted side a sixth-minute lead over local rivals Southampton.
While Bournemouth eventually lost that south coast derby 3-1 courtesy of Ryan Bertrand's individual equaliser and a second-half brace from the previously injury-stricken Jay Rodriguez, Howe still remained effusive in his praise of Ake and reiterated that dominant Premier League leaders Chelsea do retain the option to recall the player in January.
"I thought Nathan Ake was excellent again," he was quoted as saying by the Press Association, according to the Daily Mail. "There is a clause there where Chelsea can recall him, but we would hope the fact he's playing and playing well would mean he'd stay. But we'll wait and see."
Ake has made 10 appearances for Bournemouth across all competitions so far this term, scoring the winning goal on his first start at Stoke City in November. The 21-year-old, comfortable playing across the back four or in central midfield, also reacted quickest to pounce on an error from much-maligned goalkeeper Loris Karius earlier this month to help seal a truly memorable 4-3 comeback victory over Liverpool.
Former Reading loanee Ake, named as Watford's Young Player of the Year in 2015-16 after an impressive stint at Vicarage Road, will be pleased to have started all of Bournemouth's last six matches having previously admitted his frustrations at being frequently left as a substitute.
Speaking last month on rumours that Chelsea could choose to recall their academy graduate due to that initial lack of first-team football, he told the Bournemouth Echo: "I don't know where that (Chelsea story) comes from. It came from nothing. I ignore it and focus on what I have to do in training – and focus on Bournemouth."
Howe has also spoken on the topic already this season, although claimed that Chelsea, who have conceded just twice during a terrific 11-game winning streak that follows their switch to Antonio Conte's preferred three-man defensive system, had not mentioned anything regarding a potential early recall.
"We've had meetings with Chelsea regarding his progression but there's been no mention of January or anything like that," he commented, also in November. "Obviously it's up to me to make the best decisions for Bournemouth. But we love Nathe. We think he's a really talented player with a bright future ahead of him."