Nathan Ake will re-join Chelsea for the second half of the campaign after having his season-long loan spell at Bournemouth cut short, the Premier League leaders have confirmed. The 21-year-old has impressed at the Vitality Stadium this term, scoring three goals in 12 appearances in all competitions and, as a result, will return to west London for the duration of the campaign.
The former Watford and Reading loanee has impressed Antonio Conte with a string of fine displays for the Cherries, which has been littered with goals including a stoppage time winner against Liverpool. His performances led to speculation over his future on the south coast, with manager Eddie Howe expressing fears the club could lose the Dutchman.
And those concerns have been realised less than 24 hours after Ake was rested for the FA Cup third round defeat at Millwall. Chelsea will now have full use of the youngster for the rest of the season; leaving Bournemouth with a selection dilemma in defence.
"That would be a huge blow for us and with Nathan going back our defensive resources would be stretched," said, Howe who is already without suspended skipper Simon Francis and Marc Wilson, according to The Guardian. "It would be a huge blow to us as he's done so well.
"It's easier said than done to say we are going to recruit a player in similar stature to Nathan and I'm not sure there's too many out there. So that's going to be a difficult one for us but we will assess our options and try and make the right decisions,"
Conte has kept a close eye on Ake during the first half of the campaign. The full-back featured in just two of the club's first 11 matches before making six starts in a row prior to Bournemouth's Boxing Day clash with Chelsea, for which he was ineligible. Ake will now compete with the likes of Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta for a place in the first team.
"Aké is a really good player and now in the last five games he's started to play with Bournemouth and is playing every game. Honestly, I'm evaluating his situation, because Aké could be an interesting opportunity in this window, yes, for us," Conte said, according to The Guardian, prior to the recall.
Meanwhile, four players have been loaned out for the second half of the campaign including Jay Dasilva, Marco van Ginkel, Isaiah Brown and Joao Rodriguez.