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Ake: Learning and maturing

Nathan Ake has been reflecting on a season of development, as well as discussing the qualities of team-mate John Terry.

Against Watford, where Ake spent last season on loan and won the club’s Player of the Year award, the 22-year-old started his first Premier League game of the season for Chelsea and produced a confident display on the left-hand side of the back three.

The win put the Blues one away from a 30th league victory which would set a record for the highest number of wins in a season. Next up is Sunderland on Sunday.

‘Every game is difficult,’ said the defender. ‘People thought it would be easy against Watford and it wasn’t at all. We need to prepare in the right way and we will be ready.

‘The manager said before the Watford game we still have something to achieve. We have to make sure we still take it seriously and give everything we have.’

Terry scored his 67th Chelsea goal in Monday’s 4-3 win, and the captain will say an emotional goodbye to Stamford Bridge this weekend. It was Terry who captained the side on the night Ake made his Chelsea debut in an FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough in 2013 [pictured right], and the Dutchman spoke about his influence around the club.

‘He’s always been there, helping and talking, since I was 17 and I first came into the team under Rafael Benitez,’ Ake said. ‘He’s always been there for me, on and off the pitch. He tries to help, that’s just the way he is. He plays his own game but also looks out for others as well, so it was really nice to play with him.

‘Positioning and also just his character,’ listed Ake, when asked what he has learnt from the skipper. ‘The way he trains every day is magnificent. He makes sure you always give 100 per cent, even if you are a little bit tired. He keeps going and you see the way he puts tackles in and think you need to do that as well, that’s the type of character he is. He’s such a big legend at the club and he will be a really big miss.’

On a personal note, Ake has taken a lot from the current campaign, having played regular matches while on loan at Bournemouth during the first half of the season, before being brought back to Chelsea by Antonio Conte in January.

‘At Bournemouth it was all about playing games,’ he said. ‘I played centre-back and I hadn’t done that in the Premier League before. I really enjoyed it because they are a good team who play good football.

‘When I came back here it was a different challenge, playing with top players, fighting for the title and playing in the FA Cup semi-final. It’s been a really good season to look back on and I’ve learnt a lot on the pitch, as well as becoming more mature off the pitch, it’s been really good.’