Chelsea consider Nathan Ake loan recall from Bournemouth - sources
LONDON -- Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte is considering the possibility of recalling Nathan Ake from loan at Bournemouth in January, with sources telling ESPN FC that a decision on the youngster's future should be made this weekend.
Ake was deemed surplus to first-team requirements at Chelsea by Conte in the summer and sent on a season-long loan to the Vitality Stadium, where he has broken into Eddie Howe's starting XI in recent weeks and produced a series of impressive performances.
But Chelsea's switch to a 3-4-3 formation has underlined the need for another natural left footer in the squad to compete with Marcos Alonso at wing-back as well as provide additional cover in the centre, and the deal that took Ake to Bournemouth has a recall clause.
"Ake is a really good player and now in the last five games he's started to play with Bournemouth and is playing every game," Conte said at a news conference on Friday. "Honestly, I'm evaluating his situation, because Ake could be an interesting opportunity in this window, yes, for us."
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe admitted after Saturday's FA Cup defeat that he expects to see his defensive options cut further with Ake's return.
"I am not sure there are too many out there, hence why Chelsea would recall him," Howe told BBC Radio Solent. "With Simon Francis's suspension and Marc Pugh's injury and now Nathan going back, our defensive resources are certainly stretched."
The Bournemouth manager added: "It would be a huge blow to us as he's done so well.
"It is easier said than to done to say we are going to go and recruit a player of a similar stature to Nathan."
Kenedy is also back training at Chelsea after a failed loan spell at Watford, but Conte is keen to assess he and Charly Musonda -- who returned to Cobham after a similarly unsatisfactory spell at Real Betis -- in January before making any decision on whether to keep or loan them again.
Ake's return in January would lessen Chelsea's need to bring in defensive reinforcements in the difficult winter window, and Conte revealed on Friday that Kurt Zouma's imminent return after an 11-month absence due to an injury means he is unlikely to sign a central defender this month.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.