Eddie Howe has refused to be drawn into speculation over Bournemouth centre-back Nathan Ake, as reports continue to link the defender to a big money move to away from the Cherries.
Ake has spent the last three seasons with the Cherries, moving initially on loan from Chelsea but then joining permanently in 2017-18 for £20 million ($26m).
Since, Ake has built a name for himself as one of the league’s up-and-coming young defenders, with the 24-year-old reportedly drawing interest from both England and elsewhere in Europe.
Reports over the international break, which Ake spent with the Netherlands national team, saw him linked to a move back to Chelsea, along reports of interest from Manchester United, Tottenham and Napoli.
Ake returned to Bournemouth and started in their 2-0 defeat at Leicester this past weekend, leaving the Cherries 12th in the table on 38 points, 10 above the drop zone.
And Bournemouth manager Howe refused to be drawn into a conversation over those rumours, citing the time of the season to avoid speaking about any transfer speculation.
“We are in the middle of the season and it is not the time, especially with players who are very settled and in good form, for me to necessarily talk about transfer speculation regarding them,” Howe told the Daily Echo.
Ake has started all 32 of Bournemouth’s Premier League contests this season, and has chipped in three goals from the centre-back position.
Howe has been impressed with how Ake is performing this term, and believes he has seen improvement in his play while also keeping the right mindset to succeed.
"He has been very consistent again,” Howe added.
"Nathan is the type of player who suits the consistency of playing and he has got better and better as the season has gone on.
“He always shows a great attitude, is very level-headed and I am very pleased with him.”
Bournemouth are next in action on Saturday at home against Burnley, with the Cherries looking to pick up their form as they enter their final six games of the season.
Howe’s squad have won just once since the end of January – a 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town on March 9.