JERMAIN Defoe heaped praise on former team-mate Nathan Ake and said: “I can see him going to the next level.”

Ake, who is set to miss tonight’s Premier League showdown with Manchester City due to a groin problem, has been Cherries’ stand-out performer since signing from Chelsea for £20million in 2017.

And former Cherries striker Defoe, who arrived at Vitality Stadium in the same summer as the Dutchman, believes Ake could go to the highest levels of the game.

Asked about the defender, frontman Defoe told the Beautiful Game podcast: “I’d love to see him at Tottenham because you know what? He’s got so much potential.

“Coming from Chelsea, it was difficult to get in the team there. I remember he went to Watford. It was about £20million Bournemouth paid for him.

“Dutch players, technically they are always good. He scores a lot of goals from set-pieces. He’s really brave in both boxes, which is good.

“Away from that he’s one of the nicest guys I have met in football. You’d let him date your sister – he’s one of those ones.

“I can see him going to the next level. I’d love to see him go to the next level and playing at the top level – playing for Holland, trying to get in that team. Playing in the Champions League and stuff like that.

“I feel like he’s good enough, for sure.”

Defoe, now at Rangers after his contract at Cherries officially ran out last month, admits he fears for his former club if they are relegated.

“Remember, a lot of the boys are still my friends,” he added. “I speak to Junior Stanislas, who is an unbelievable guy, as well as Charlie Daniels.

“I still speak to a lot of the boys and, to be fair, the lads deserve to play in the Premier League – a lot of them are top players.

“It’s really difficult to see the team suffer like that.

“I believe that if they do go down, it will be difficult because you look at the players like Callum Wilson, whose come in the England squad. Joshua King is a full international. What’s going to happen with these players? Are these players going to go?

“You’ve got a situation where the players leave and then you have to rebuild to try to get yourself back up into the Premier League, which is, again, a difficult job.

“It’s not a good time for the football club at the minute. I know they are suffering. I’ve been there at Sunderland and it’s a lot of pressure. It’s going to be difficult.”