Watford manager Gianfranco Zola has revealed wanted to sign young defender Nathan Ake on loan last month, but Chelsea were not interested in allowing the player to leave the club.

Ake has made two first-team appearances for Chelsea this season, the latest coming in the FA Cup defeat of Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, and had been wanted by Watford to temporarily plug a gap.

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez, however, wanted to keep the 18-year-old at Stamford Bridge, which prompted the Hornets to focus their attention on Matthew Briggs of Fulham, who signed on loan on the final day of February.

Zola told the Watford Observer: "[Ake] was one consideration we thought about when we were struggling with injuries but then we went for Matthew Briggs."

Despite missing out on Ake, Watford have enjoyed success in taking players on loan from Chelsea, with teenage midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah having played a prominent role in turning the club into promotion candidates.

Zola has previously stated the 18-year-old could become a successor to Frank Lampard in the Chelsea midfield, with the future of the veteran still in doubt.

Lampard is out of contract at the end of the season, and it still remains unclear if he will extend his stay with Chelsea beyond the terms of his current deal.

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