Chelsea's Nathan Ake near £20m transfer to Bournemouth
LONDON -- Nathan Ake is on the verge of joining Bournemouth from Chelsea in a £20 million transfer expected to be finalised within the next 48 hours, sources have confirmed to ESPN FC.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe registered his interest in a permanent deal for Ake in January after Chelsea recalled the 22-year-old from loan at the request of Antonio Conte, who wanted additional defensive cover in order to maximise his team's chances of winning the Premier League title.
Chelsea went on to become champions and reach the FA Cup final, but Ake made just five appearances in all competitions between January and May and has now decided to follow Asmir Begovic to Bournemouth in search of regular first-team football in the Premier League.
Bournemouth's admiration for Ake is underlined by their willingness to pay a club-record £20m fee for the Dutchman, who joined Chelsea's academy from Feyenoord as a 16-year-old in 2011 and has proven a reliable performer at left-back, centre-back or defensive midfield.
The Blues have already raised around £42m from the sales of Begovic, Juan Cuadrado, Christian Atsu and Bertrand Traore this summer, as they prepare for a spending spree intended to equip Conte with a squad capable of challenging in the Champions League next season.
Tiemoue Bakayoko is set to become Chelsea's first new signing once the details of a £35m deal with Monaco are finalised, while Juventus wing-back Alex Sandro has also been heavily linked with a £61m move to Stamford Bridge, and talks are ongoing with Everton over striker Romelu Lukaku.
Ake's departure will heighten Conte's need for defensive reinforcements. Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk and Juventus veteran Leonardo Bonucci remain on Chelsea's radar, while youngster Andreas Christensen will also be given an opportunity to stake a claim for a first-team place in preseason.
In an interview with France Football earlier on Wednesday, Kurt Zouma insisted that he intends to stay and fight for a starting spot at Chelsea next season, despite a number of reports this summer linking the Frenchman with a loan move away from Stamford Bridge.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.