Chelsea have no need to spend big on the likes of Giorgio Chiellini as they may have “found another John Terry” in Nathan Ake, according to Jamie Redknapp.
The Blues have been heavily linked with centre-half reinforcements since Antonio Conte inherited the managerial reins at Stamford Bridge.
David Luiz was brought back to the club for a second spell over the summer, but several other high-profile targets are reported to have been identified.
Juventus skipper Chiellini is among those said to be on the Blues’ transfer radar, with the 32-year-old having previously worked with Conte in Turin and with the Italy national side.
Redknapp, though, believes that Chelsea already have a player on their books who can be a “long-term solution” on the left side of their back three, with Ake showing during a loan spell at Bournemouth that he has the potential to be a Premier League star of the present and future.
He told the Daily Mail: "Although there are elements of his game he needs to improve upon, Ake could end up saving Chelsea a lot of money.
"Chelsea are crying out for a left-sided centre back. Gary Cahill has done well there this season but the position does not come naturally to him.
"Good left-footed centre backs are hard to find. Chelsea may go out and buy someone like Giorgio Chiellini but they could have a long-term solution on their books in Ake.
"If he keeps his place, Ake will have had two years’ Premier League experience on loan at Watford and Bournemouth.
"He will have gone a long way to showing he could go back to Chelsea to be a part of their set-up in the next year or two.
"The last central defender to come through the youth system and become a regular at Stamford Bridge was John Terry. Could Chelsea have finally found another?"
Netherlands U21 international Ake has been part of the Chelsea set-up since 2011, when he was snapped up from the Feyenoord academy ranks.
He has been restricted to just 12 senior outings for the Blues so far, but the 21-year-old saw regular football for Watford last season and is quickly becoming an important part of Eddie Howe’s plans at Bournemouth – as shown by his dramatic late winner in Sunday’s 4-3 victory over Liverpool.