Chelsea might just have uncovered the next Nathan Ake after Tuchel decision - TCC View

When Nathan Ake arrived on the scene nearly a decade ago, excited eyes lit up within the Chelsea community.

Had they just discovered the next gem in Roman Abramovich’s diamond mine?

His debut season certainly suggested such a find.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Just a year after joining the youth set up from Feyenoord, Ake was promoted to first-team duties.

The defender made his first competitive start against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup’s fifth round.

A clean sheet and a commanding performance left many Blues supporters debating if they had landed the next big thing.

Ake then played 90 minutes in the second leg of Chelsea’s Europa League quarter-final clash with Rubin Kazan.

Although Rafa Benitez’s side lost 3-2 on the night, they edged past Kazan 5-4 on aggregate.

Photo by Dmitry Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images

Benitez used the Dutchman again in the semi-final, but only as a substitute.

Another start on the final Premier League weekend at home to Everton rounded off a fine few months in senior football for Ake.

Unfortunately, the 26-year-old’s Chelsea career after that campaign began to spiral.

Not dramatically, just enough to lose sight of his Stamford Bridge potential.

He only played once the following term, instead resigned to development team duties.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Three separate loan spells ensued, first to Reading, then Watford and Bournemouth.

His initial stint by the coast impressed Bournemouth enough to recruit him permanently, in a deal worth £40m (BBC).

Left without an Ake

Ake departed the Cherries last August to join Manchester City and become a Premier League champion

But there is still a sense of what could have been, had he remained at Chelsea.

Not only did the Blues lose a very promising individual, they also forfeited something they have yet to properly reclaim: a left-footed centre-back.

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Such players are rarities in the modern game, which is why when they become available, clubs are jostling for their signature.

They provide a balance to the defensive line, meaning two right-footers aren’t stationed together.

Chelsea have acquired many a centre-half since Ake left for Bournemouth, but not with the luxury of being left-footed.

Until they stumbled upon Malang Sarr.

Sarr the solution?

Originally, it appeared the Blues had actually signed Sarr by accident.

The young Frenchman was sent off on loan to Porto almost immediately after penning a deal with Frank Lampard’s then employers.

Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

A very disappointing season in Portugal followed, leaving very little to be desired about the former Nice prodigy.

Having returned to Cobham over the summer, the Blues tried desperately to send Sarr away again.

They failed in doing so and instead included him in Thomas Tuchel’s squad.

Still, it seemed unlikely he would feature very prominently – if at all – considering his displays in Porto’s colours.

Yet, Sarr showed up on Saturday’s away trip to Brentford, with the 22-year-old putting in a brilliant display in his maiden Premier League outing.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

He was sturdy for majority of the match, generally playing without fear in front of a buzzing Bees crowd.

His exhibition gave a glimpse into life with a left-side CB, which for an hour and a half, looked pretty promising.

Permitted Tuchel uses Sarr more regularly, Chelsea might just have found the answer to their Ake question.    

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.