Chelsea are pulling out of the race to sign Nathan Ake from Bournemouth this month, despite having a £40m option to do so.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 03: Nathan Ake of AFC Bournemouth runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and AFC Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on December 03, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)

The Evening Standard report that Chelsea are ‘reassessing’ their defensive targets after cooling interest in Nathan Ake. They have a £40m buy-back clause in his contract for this month, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to take it up.

Chelsea scouted the player throughout this season, raising concerns about his ability to play with a high defensive line. They do still have ‘first refusal’ on Ake if another club does agree on a deal.

At the start of the month, the Telegraph claimed Ake was one of Arsenal’s defensive transfer targets. Eddie Howe denied any formal offers, but according to reports, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City were all in for him.

If Chelsea are out of the race, that certainly makes things easier. Even if Arsenal offered the £40m asking price, they could lose the defender to their London rivals due to Chelsea’s purchase clauses.

Now it’s just a question of whether Arsenal actually want Ake. If Chelsea don’t think he’s suitable for them, maybe he wouldn’t fit Mikel Arteta’s team either. Bournemouth certainly aren’t a pillar of defensive consistency with the 24-year-old in their team.

It’s up to Arteta and the Arsenal hierarchy to make the call.