When John Terry, Kurt Zouma and Nathan Ake lined up as a centre-back trio for Chelsea against Wolves on the weekend, there really was a feeling that a new era is coming in under Antonio Conte.
The Blues have long had their inspirational captain as the main man in their backline, but his game time is beginning to reduce and there’s a good chance he will not be around come 2017/18. Even though the likes of David Luiz, Cesar Azpilucueta and Gary Cahill have proven themselves a superb triumvirate, the 36-year-old will need replacing.
But, Conte may not need to delve into the transfer market to solve this problem, with Ake really shining vs. Wolves. The Dutchman was recalled from a loan spell at Bournemouth during January, but despite wowing for the Cherries he hasn’t been handed a wealth of chances by Conte, with his two outings both coming in the FA Cup…
Alas, more may be on the horizon judging by his showing against the Midlands outfit, with Ake winning more aerial duels (seven) and making the highest numbers of clearances (eleven) of any player on the Molineux pitch. On top of these headline-grabbing stats, the 22-year-old was involved in the play with 81 touches, won three tackles, made three interceptions and only committed one foul.
There were fears Ake may get lost back at Chelsea, but surely that will not be the case.