Antonio Conte today appeared to suggest that he wanted Chelsea to keep Nathan Ake rather than sell him to Bournemouth.

The 22-year-old was signed by Bournemouth for a club record £20million in June despite being a highly rated graduate of Chelsea’s Academy.

Speaking to Standard Sport earlier today, Ake admitted he wanted to leave Stamford Bridge in order to get regular first-team football but Chelsea still surprised many of their fans by selling him.

Conte only played him five times after he was recalled early from a loan spell at Bournemouth in January, but the Italian seems to be disappointed that he ended up going to Eddie Howe’s side on a permanent basis.

When asked by Standard Sport about the reasoning behind letting the centre-back go, Conte said: “My answer is always the same. I can give my opinion to my club but then the last decision is for the club and this must be very clear.”

After being asked if he could understand why Ake wanted to leave in order to play more, he added: “To play regularly is not simple. It means one between Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill or David Luiz doesn’t play. 

“It is not simple and when you decide to stay in a great team, you have to accept a big challenge and show you deserve better than another player. But it is normal otherwise you take another decision.”