hen Nathan Aké walked into the Bournemouth players’ lounge after scoring an injury-time winner against Liverpool in a thrilling comeback in December, there was a disappointment rather than elation fuelling his emotions. Aké was the hero, the on-loan star who has just delivered a landmark victory for Bournemouth in dramatic fashion, yet something was troubling him amid the celebrations.
“I scored a tap-in and, of course, everyone makes it sound like I played a great game and won us the match,” he says. “But I think you always feel it doesn’t matter how much people talk you up or down; you always feel what you’ve done yourself. And in that game I felt like the first Liverpool goal, and maybe a little bit the second, I could have done better. The next week I asked the manager, Eddie Howe, to watch the clips with me and we spoke about what I could have done.”
It is a story that encapsulates what Aké is all about and goes some way to explaining why they talk about his mentality in the same breath as his talent at Stamford Bridge. Aké is a dream to manage in that sense and Howe will not be alone in hoping to have that opportunity next season as Bournemouth join the queue of Premier League clubs trying to persuade Chelsea to part with a player who is set to win his first senior cap for Holland this week. Read more.