Chelsea youngster Nathan Ake has joined newly promoted Watford on a season-loan loan after signing a new five-year contract with the Premier League champions. The Netherlands Under-21 international becomes the 24th player to leave Stamford Bridge on loan this summer.
Ake is the 12th new addition at Watford, the most active of any Premier League club in the transfer window this summer, but the first to arrive on loan. Though the confirmation of his arrival comes before the visit of West Bromwich Albion, he will not be available for selection having not been registered in time.
The 20-year-old has made 12 appearances for Chelsea in four terms as a professional at the club and his exit is the 36th move to be conducted by the Blues this summer. Last season, he spent the final two months of the campaign on loan at Championship club Reading, where he played five times before returning to west London.
An able full-back or defensive midfielder, Ake could be deployed in a series of positions while at Vicarage Road, where he will be tested over a whole Premier League season for the first time. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is notably impressed by the club's academy, which has won four of the last six FA Youth Cups, but has urged them to take their chances.
"People normally ask about chances, chances, chances and maybe that's a good excuse for the young players to be where they are," the Chelsea boss said prior to the start of the 2015-16 season, according to The Guardian. "Maybe for the good of English football, you should go the other way. Are you ready to get the chance?
"The other day I had an internal discussion with my staff: must the manager give confidence to the player or must the player give confidence to a manager? We arrived at the conclusion that players pick themselves – that's the responsibility that they must have."
"The players and the agents [say]: 'I need five matches in a row to prove myself'. You don't need five matches in a row. In 10 minutes you can show me if you are ready or not.
"In 10 minutes it's difficult to score a Maradona goal – to get the ball in midfield, dribble past 10 guys and score – but that's not what you're expecting from a player. You can show you are mentally ready, you are physically ready, you are ready to cope with the pressure, you aren't the kind of guy that is ready to train and play against kids of your own age but not to play at a high level."