Thursday 19 December 2019 10:14, UK
Nathan Ake says he is happy at Bournemouth amid transfer speculation over a potential return to Chelsea, but spoke very highly of Frank Lampard and his "perfect" time at Stamford Bridge in a wide-ranging interview.
Ake has developed into a crucial player for the Cherries following his £20m arrival from Stamford Bridge two years ago, and has played in 91 consecutive games without missing a single minute.
However, the 24-year-old Netherlands international faces a spell on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury in the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool last time out.
That means he will not feature on Saturday when Chelsea and Bournemouth lock horns in the Premier League, but that has not stopped discussions over his future, with the Blues and Manchester City set to fight for his signature in January.
Chelsea have a £40m buy-back clause to sign Ake, while champions City are keen to bolster their defensive options when the window opens, but the centre-back revealed he is still enjoying his time on the south coast.
"I love Bournemouth," Ake said. "The place where we live is amazing. It's so chilled and nice, and also the club itself is a family club. Especially as a young player to come here, it's a perfect fit.
"I don't like to look too far ahead normally, I see it season-by-season or game-by-game. We will see what happens. I don't like to go too much ahead of time."
Despite his loyalty to Bournemouth, Ake has kept a close eye on former club Chelsea this season, and admits he has been impressed by the job Frank Lampard has done despite their transfer ban.
"Yeah, 100 per cent [I have been impressed]," he added. "With the transfer ban, they couldn't buy anyone, so they used the youth players and they have done fantastically. It's so good to see and I'm so happy for everyone who is playing now.
"Everyone could always see Frank Lampard would become a head coach. The way he was as a player, always trying to help people and on everyone's case. I'm very happy for Chelsea."
"It was hard. I had to report to the training ground, I think my parents were still there for the first week or so. So for the first week I was sat with them in the canteen!
"Obviously you are new, so you want to meet new people, and after they left it got a lot more real. I went into digs, and that really helped to be fair, because you are alone suddenly.
"In digs I was living with one other team-mate. It makes you speak English every day, and the people there were very nice. I'm not someone who misses home too much, it was a good new experience.
"My brother came over too, but I was not allowed to live with him. Chelsea wanted me to go into digs and learn English well, and learn from another team-mate."
"John Terry. He was the first one to say hello and find out about you. He made sure I was relaxed going into training. Didier Drogba was nice as well.
"The one that stands out for me was when I was playing Rubin Kazan, I was 19 or 18, in the Europa League quarter-finals, Paulo Ferreira came and sat next to me.
"He just talked to me about how everything was going. I was on the bench in the Europa League so it was easy to get crazy and think I was a superstar.
"He was saying to me, 'Just make sure you stay on your feet, it's just the start' and that always stuck with me. He could have sat somewhere else, but he picked me out and said that. It's nice to see that someone cares about you."
"It was one of the best things I've done. When I came over, there was a lot of criticism that I was too young to go to England. I just wanted to take that experience and be a better player.
"It was perfect for me, playing with all the best players in the youth league, and we won stuff. I made the step up very early. Training with big stars and playing with big stars, making my debut at 17. Going out on loan. Mental setbacks.
"I have learned so much and I am so much stronger."
"We have to make sure we stay positive. Obviously from outside there is going to be a lot of negativity and pressure. That's normal.
"The tricky part is staying together as a squad and going into the next game with confidence and believing you can win. If you can win one, then the confidence grows higher and you can win more games.
"You find out about the team [in difficult moments] - how people are reacting. Do we stay positive, or go into negativity? It's hard sometimes, but I think so far everyone so far has reacted well.
"We have talked with each other, we know we still must fight so hard to pick up points. It will be a tough few weeks."
"It's not too bad. Hopefully I can be back in a month or so. So that's good news, it's not too bad. It felt quite bad [coming off the pitch against Liverpool] and I could not walk, so I was thinking it was going to be a bad one.
"It was very painful. Especially in this period we are in now, you don't want something like that. You just want to play every game. I have hardly been injured over the last three or four years, so it was a shock to me, but it is part of football.
"You just have to accept it and make sure you get fit as soon as possible."