Written by David Robinson
Just five points separated Watford and Chelsea in what turned out to be a surprising season in the Premier League. While Chelsea finished higher, the two clubs fortunes couldn’t have been further apart in terms of success with the Golden Boys very much on the up from promotion and reaching an FA Cup Semi-Final, former Champions League holders Chelsea disintegrated in all departments. Chelsea now have a huge task of bouncing back and rebuilding. I look at one player who can be part of that, meaning the club might not have to look too far from home to start finding success again in the future.
Young Nathan Ake was sent out on loan to Watford at the start of the season with the intention of gaining valuable first team football. The highly rated youngster previously had a short loan spell with Reading but this is where the Blues would find out if they had another player who could play at the top level. The answer is simple, he can, and then some. I’ve been hugely impressed with Ake this season at Vicarage Road, his maturity playing at Left Back is comforting to watch. He plays with real composure and a determination to first and foremost defend but then he is competent and brave enough to express himself going forwards. This is however, where I believe he will only get better with age, providing he gets the opportunities. The best compliment I can give Ake is that, when I saw a very young Hector Bellerin arrive at Watford, you could tell he was destined for big things. I have a gut feeling Ake can reach the same levels that the Arsenal right back is starting to fulfil. They most importantly share the same ability to find time on the ball and find the right decisions. This level of class these players have shown, indicates top class talent. Not many young players possess this which gives you the feeling that they can be leading full backs in the league for many years.
I believe the Netherlands Under 21 international should be at Chelsea next season competing for a first team spot. Abramovich has always stated his desire for the club to produce and play their wealth of young talent and they fail to deliver this time and time again. This season surely has to spark change and now is the perfect time to install the faith into the youth system rather then spending multi-million pound deals for players like Baba-Rahman when the alternative can be just as influential. With the dependable Cesar Azpilicueta at Left Back, the 21 year old can learn his trade and get game time if the Spaniard was to get injured or simply to rotate during a long season. Of course, with greater standards expected at Chelsea, there would be added pressure but with the likes of Bellerin, the only way to find out is to give game time. The Gunners full back benefited from the injury of Debuchy at the Emirates but once the 21 year old got his chance, he took it and hasn’t looked back since.
With a new manager coming in at Stamford Bridge I remain pessimistic about the chances of Ake fitting in with a quick fix once again the likely downfall of players in the Chelsea set up. Another season gone without this experience is likely to damage the development of a player, something that hindered former Watford loanee Nathaniel Chalobah. While I would be delighted to see Ake back at Vicarage Road next season, part of me wants the Watford Young Player Of The Season to go on and strive for the very top.
Chelsea fans, do you want to see the likes of Ake featuring next season? What changes need to be made this summer? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Franziska