Nathan Ake: The Future of Chelsea FC

ImageThe 18 year old Dutchman, at this point, is one of the prime examples of the bright and exciting future of Chelsea. Watching the likes of him, Lukaku, Courtois and Piazon play gives me goose bumps. Yes, they aren’t consistently playing for Chelsea’s first team, and in theory watching Lukaku score for another Premier League team shouldn’t be exciting.  But, knowing that we’ll have the attacking power of the Belgian along with Piazon who’s been impressive at Malaga shows that Chelsea are about to embark on a reign of terror over the other Premier League teams.

Ake made his first team debut on Boxing Day of last year in the away fixture against Norwich City, replacing Juan Mata who scored the winner. Brought in on the 90th minute, this game was not the best display of his talents. The defender, who generally is deployed in the center but can go out left, also can go out left. This versatility will make him a very useful player in the following seasons. Making his FA Cup debut against Middleborough, Ake was arguably one of the better defenders, enthusiastically chasing balls, and making essential and well-timed challenges.  With his second start for the team and European debut, Ake started in the 2nd leg of the Rubin Kazan tie in the Europa League after traveling with the team to Moscow. This performance was significantly less flamboyant than his Middleborough; he was deployed as a holding midfielder, which tends to be his least common position.

At the moment, Chelsea is more or less solid in the backline with players like Terry, Luiz, Ivanovic, Cole and Azpi, but is lacking options in the form of a holding midfielder. Lampard, Ramires and Mikkel are the players most often used in this position, with the last debatably the best choice.  With our current use of a 4-2-3-1 formation, good Chemistry and balance must be struck between the two holding midfielders. So far, the only player that consistently works well with Mikkel is Ramires. However, the combination of Ake and Super Frank was pretty decent. The youngster made a total of 7 successful interceptions and won 5 tackles today, making him one of the better defensive players. When Mikkel came on for Ramires, Lampard moved further forward leaving the Nigerian and Dutchman in pivot. The latter was again able to adapt well to a different player, although he seemed more hesitant. In the play leading up to the 2nd goal, Ake could be seen to be looking uncertainly at Karadeniz, who was unmarked. From his body language, we can deduce that he expected Mikkel to become aware of the danger posed. Unfortunately, Ake realised this too late, and although he did rush forward to attempt to make up for his hesitation, it was too little too late.

This however, shouldn’t deter from the skill shown by the youngster. It does, in fact, show awareness on his part. Assertiveness and confidence will come to him once he gets more game time with the first team. You can imagine a young player not wanting to over step his boundaries by rushing into a tackle he may have felt was covered by the more experienced Mikkel. Overall for Ake, Rubin Kazan was a good show of skills.

With tales of the return of the ‘Special One’ becoming more and more likely, we can expect a great season from Chelsea next season. Especially if Lampard’s isn’t renewed Ake will be more then welcome by the Portuguese manager, assuming he is to return. Especially with our busy schedule and the list of injured players increasing I see no reason for Ake not to be included in more games.

Your move, Rafa.

Is Ake ready for more game time? Let me know what you think, and Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!

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