Nathan Ake will be a Watford player for the rest of the season even if Chelsea’s new Dutch interim manager Guus Hiddink wants to recall the Holland Under-21 international.
We understand the left-back, signed on a season-long loan deal from the Premier League champions, could have had his stay at Vicarage Road ended prematurely had he not played a minimum number of games for the Hornets under the terms of the agreement. He is now over that threshold so the release clause is redundant.
The news will come as a huge relief to Watford fans who had feared the dethroning of Jose Mourinho, who is so reluctant to blood the club’s young players, would see him swiftly recalled to Stamford Bridge. Chants of ‘Sign him up, sign him up, sign up’ rang out of the Rookery End on Sunday, a sign of how they have taken Ake to their hearts and want his stay to be turned into a permanent one in the summer.
“I’m happy here as I play every time,” Ake said yesterday after scoring his first senior goal. “The manager [Quique] always helps me. He talks a lot to me in the games and outside the games how I can improve. He really trusts young players and has helped me.”
Mourinho had the cream of the best young players in the country to pick from during his second spell at Chelsea yet resisted the temptation to infuse his side with members of the club’s U21 side who had reached the final of the FA Youth Cup for four straight seasons.
“I had a good relationship with Mourinho so it was a bit of a shock [when he was sacked],” Ake said. “I don’t think it’s a case that everyone [of the young players] is now going to play because the manager has changed. It’s more a matter of how you are playing and if you are able to come back [from your loan spell] and perform [in the first team]. I just try to develop my game and improve. I need to do it for the whole season [at Watford], not a couple of games. I have to [keep doing it] until the end of the season.”
Ake will miss Saturday’s game against Chelsea because he cannot play against his parent club. His loss will be a significant blow as Sanchez Flores is a huge admirer of the 20-year-old.
“He has a lot of qualities,” said Sanchez Flores on Thursday. “He can play in different positions and is training in different positions. He is amazing and adapting really quick. He is completely focussed on his profession.”