When we speak of the up and coming youth players at Chelsea who will become first team players, Ryan Bertrand is always at the top of the list. When speaking of his attributes, the word youth is never far away, and yet you might be surprised to know he will be 24 by the time next season starts. To put that in context; Oscar is 21, Mata 25, Hazard 22, Azpilicueta will be 24 while new signings Schurrle and van Ginkel will be 20 and 22 respectively. Bertrand is past the point of being a young, promising talent – this is when he should be cementing his place in the team. So far, he has been unable to do so.
Why is this? Bertrand has had several loan spells, and he has returned from every single one with a glowing report card and tremendous additional experience. He has featured over 160 times for other clubs while employed by Chelsea, and yet only managed 53 appearances for us in the last three seasons. 38 of these were last seasons, but many were as a substitute. Furthermore, Bertrand has never been trusted to nail down one position in this Chelsea team. Recently he has been deployed as an attacking left winger – it’s a position he can do a job in but ask any of Norwich, Reading or Nottingham Forest where he should be playing and all three will confirm he was incredible for them at left back.
The problem, then, is Ashley Cole. Cole is 32, but he recently signed a further 1 year deal at the club, and he has shown little sign of slowing down as he enters his 30’s. However, if you take Cole out of the picture, does anyone think that Bertrand would be entrusted as first choice over the course of a season? I certainly don’t. Whether Ryan could eventually become a first choice left back for us is irrelevant – he simply hasn’t been given the chance. When we need to replace Cole, we will buy a replacement. At 24, Bertrand has simply gone too far, and he hasn’t been given his chance. He could well stay at Chelsea as a utility player – every club needs those – but Ryan is better than that. Given the chance, he could become a first choice left back at a Premier League club. Just because I don’t think that will happen at Chelsea doesn’t mean it can’t happen elsewhere.
Tell us, what would you do with Ryan Bertrand?