BOSS Eddie Howe admitted he was not surprised reported interest had surfaced in star defender Nathan Ake and added: “He’s been outstanding for us from the moment he signed.”

The defender, who today marks three years since his £20million move from Chelsea, has this week been linked with a move to Premier League big guns Manchester City.

The Athletic claim “early discussions have taken place” in relation to a possible deal for the Dutch international.

Howe said: “Am I surprised in interest in Nathan? No, because he’s been a model of consistency. I think he has performed very well for us for a long, long period of time.

“He’s been outstanding for us from the moment he’s signed. Not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well.

“He is going to have a big, big part to play in our remaining games in our battle to stay in the Premier League.”

Ake has played 117 times for Cherries in all competitions, scoring 11 goals as well as being the stand-out defender in Eddie Howe’s backline.

Asked whether the 25-year-old had been his best signing, the Cherries boss replied: “I think it’s very difficult to bracket signings and give them an order of how well they have done.

“He’s definitely been one of them because when you remember back a long time ago when Nathan came to us, he played left-back for Watford for a season.

“I know historically for Chelsea he had played a number of positions. For us, when we signed him, we saw him as a centre-back.

“There was a slight time just to convert him in that position but, since he signed, he’s been absolutely brilliant.

“He has really contributed and he’s developing into a real leader for us – very popular in the dressing room – can’t speak highly enough of him.”