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Is Ryan Bertrand's Time Up at Southampton With Brentford Left Back Linked !
Wednesday, 7th Apr 2021 09:25

Saints are being linked with several left backs as Ryan Bertrand approaches the final month of the season with a new contract still not signed, the question is whether this might now be Saints preferred course of action.

Ryan Bertrand has been one of Saints best signings since we returned to the Premier League, by the end of this season he will have completed 7 seasons at St Mary's and is on course to have played around 230 games for the club in all competitions.

For a reported fee of £10 million Saints have truly got value for money from a player who has been at times outstanding and at worst steady in the Saints side and was a rock in a team that finished in the top 6 under Ronald Koeman and reached the League Cup final under Claude Puel.

There are those who will say that he is perhaps Saints best ever left back and there is a lot of evidence to back that up.

Certainly there were those who were more loved by the fans such as Mark Dennis, there were those that went on to achieve more in the game such as Wayne Bridge and there was of course David Peach a stalwart in the Saints side under Lawrie McMenemy and an FA Cup winner in 1976, not to mention Francis Benali who saw off many a rival to replace him in the team.

But despite a list of left backs in the last 50 years that reads like a whose who of the top echelons of English football, some at the start of their career such as Gareth Bale and others at the end of it like Graeme Le Saux, there is a case for Bertrand to be crowned the best ever.

None of his competitors for the title played as many top flight games for the club aside from Francis Benali and in overall terms with everything taken into account it is hard to make a claim that Bertrand has not been the best to play in that position in the club's history.

He has not been as spectacular as some, but he has played to a high standard season in season out for 7 full years and that is a record that cannot be matched.

But as they say all things must come to an end and Saints are at that crossroads where with the player turning 32 in the summer, they have to consider whether he has another year left in him, or is it time to replace him.

This is a tricky question that crops up from time to time at any football club.

Bertrand himself is seemingly not short of suitors, Leicester City are rumoured to be lurking to take him on a free transfer at the end of the season and there are others who have been linked including Arsenal.

Bertrand himself has expressed a desire to stay at St Mary's, he unlike many who harbour coaching ambitions when their playing career ends, sees his future as in the boardroom, perhaps initially as an assistant director of football type role, but moving forward perhaps even as a CEO.

Talks are said to have taken place between club and player about staying at the club and what role he will take in the future, but as of yet it seems there is no agreement having been made.

That has led to various left backs being linked with the club, up until recently it was assumed that Jake Vokins might be groomed to take over, but he does not seem quite ready yet, so if Bertrand does leave then an experienced replacement has to be found.

One name being iinked is that of Brentford's left back Rico Henry, who ironically is currently out injured with a hamstring tear.

Henry is no spring chicken though, he will turn 24 in the summer and has not played above Championship level, so the question is whether he can make the step up, the fee being quoted is £15 million, but I would be surprised if Saints would want to do business at that level given his lack of top flight experience

So the question is are the transfer rumours linking the likes of Henry just agents talk or indeed even Saints trying to put a little pressure on Bertrand himself to sign a new deal.

As I have mentioned I think that Bertrand can be considered one of our best ever signings, not just of the last decade, but of my lifetime given the size of his fee and the service he has given to the club, I have even suggested he could well be our best ever left back, but I do think he is not quite the player he was, he is still doing a job, but I just think his reactions have slowed a little, both defensively and in going forward.

This is understandable given his age and the big question Saints have to ask is whether he has another year left in him at the highest level, perhaps he might have two, but at some time in the near future we have to have a replacement lined up and is now the time to do it.

Ryan Bertrand will also realise that his time as a player is coming to an end, it seems he would like to stay with Saints but they cannot offer him the role he craves going forward, if that is the case is it in his own best interests to have one last move, from that perspective Leicester and Arsenal could potentially offer him more in the twilight of his playing career than Saints.

I do not expect this to be resolved until the end of the season, both Saints and Bertrand himself will be mulling over their options, if Bertrand does leave then it will be a sad day, he has been a great player for Southampton FC and deserves to be recognised as such.

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halftimeorange added 10:03 - Apr 7
Bertrand is no fool having invested sensibly outside football. I'd have thought that his ambitions to ultimately reach the boardroom are more likely to be realised if he stays with Saints than moving on elsewhere for one last payday. I doubt that money is the sticking point.

Centurion added 10:14 - Apr 7
I can see Bertrand staying at Southampton. He would be a great ambassador and would be a good person to have on the board, seeing things very much from the perspective of players and manager.

Shakin_Stevens added 10:25 - Apr 7
Every time I watch him these days I get the impression that he's a professional going about his business as best he can but that he's lost his love for football. Nothing to do with saints particularly I just think his fire's gone out. Not meant to be a criticism, he's the best left back I've ever seen in a saints shirt but sadly I think it's time for him to go, reputation fully intact.

Incidentally I think you wrote more words praising Danny Fox than you've ever done about Ryan, I know some people get a weird pleasure out of blindly agreeing with you but you haven't always been the best judge of a player's ability.

Crispinmumbles added 10:38 - Apr 7
he has a couple of seasons left in him or I've been watching different games. Tactical nous counts for a lot and he is often in exactly the right spot.

Butty101 added 11:03 - Apr 7
He has never been quite the same since missing out on the world cup squad a few years back. At the time he was the best left back in the country. I hope he stays on for another couple seasons. Its a shame we sold Matty Targett as he was an ideal replacement.

SonicBoom added 11:34 - Apr 7
Bertrand doesn't quite have the hunger or desire to get forward as much as he used to but he would certainly be worth another year.
As for this other guy who knows? Nick said would we want to pay 15 for a guy with no top flight experience...well that is the going rate. Championship players are going for a lot more than that these days and if he did have PL experience he would be even more.

A1079 added 11:59 - Apr 7
Ryan has been an excellent signing for us and especially given what we paid. We have got a number of good years out of him and in previous seasons his runs forward and link up play has been invaluable.

I have been less impressed with him in the last 2 seasons and at times I have thought he has looked lazy and disinterested and been happy to just do the minimum, I would say he has even annoyed me at times.

I think he would be worth another year or even two if he is genuinely interested and is going to put in the effort but if he is half hearted about playing then I am indifferent about him leaving.

SanMarco added 12:39 - Apr 7
"LINKED" - everyone's favourite word at this time of the year.

I like Bertrand and would be happy for him to stay as first choice for another year or two, we do need back-ups for both full-backs though.

"Best ever" debates are fun but really what does 'best ever' mean? Best ever for us while he was here? Best ever as in at his peak 'the best', even though at a different club? Nick's suggestion is based on Ryan being pretty good for a number of seasons. Does that trump someone like Bridge who was very good for a far shorter while or Bale who went on to have a spell as very, very good (but in a different position and at different clubs.) Or Keegan who may have a case as the 'best ever' to play for us but was probably past his very best when he played for us and was only here for two seasons. The reason that MLT, Channon and Paine are always in our lists of 'best ever' is that they combined longevity (loyalty if you like) with very high quality. Ryan is not far short on longevity but falls a bit short on very high quality. Still a good player for us though and worth keeping if he wants to stay.

Quinn1979 added 12:49 - Apr 7
Good read.

However, I have noticed from reading lots of 'news', rumour and opinion articles on transfers that whenever Saints, or any other club, show interest in a player there is always a slew of articles with headlines like "Does club's interest in 'Player B' spell the end of 'Player A's' time at the club?"

I say it is not an 'Either/Or' situation but rather a 'Both/And' one. In the case of Bertrand, and full-backs in general, at Saints one of the major things that has been said about the squad all season is the lack of depth. With Targett leaving in the summer, as he obviously was not happy to play second fiddle to Bertrand, and both Vokins and Valery being loaned out it has left Saints very very thin at full-back. Now Vokins and Valery might not have been able to get to the standard required of them in the short amount of game time they could have had, or they not just not good enough, but it does not change the fact that with or without them the squad is shallow in those areas.

So when the talk of is Rico Henry going to replace Bertrand it would leave us in the exact same position we are now. As the above article and comments point out Bertrand has been a fantastic player for the club but he is in the latter stages of his career and is perhaps not the same player as he once was, so a Championship left back with no Premier League experience could be considered a like-for-like swap. Regardless of how good Henry could/would be for the club, if he got injured or suspended we would still be playing a centre-back at left back, or asking a winger to try and play as wing-back, or even worse drawing a midfielder from the already depleted pool of midfielders to play there.

So why not have both Bertrand and a new left-back, be it Henry or anyone else? The way Saints have made lots of transfers in the past is to bring in a new player and have them learn the system from those already there. Romeu came in when Wanyama was still at the club, he played back up/squad player to him so when Wanyama left for Spurs Romeu was a ready made and acclimatised replacement. So if we did buy Henry, or any other left-back, he and Bertrand could share the role over the course of next season. This could help Bertrand be less jaded and give the new player experience of both the PL and Saints.

Big_T added 13:10 - Apr 7
Speaking personally I'd hope yes his time is up.
I would not give him a 3 years contract, 12mths to help bed in a new player yes,18mth at most.
For a player with undoubted skill he seems far too happy to coast through games imo. The last 2/3 seasons when we have really struggled can anyone remember Ryan (a senior player with loads of experience) rolling his sleeves up and really helping the team push on ? I remember him jogging about with a lack of intensity and moaning at whoever played in front of him.
28 games 1 assist, 16% cross accuracy, 1 blocked shot, 0 last man tackles and just 53% successful tackles
A little perspective Redmond 21 games 2 assist, 8 blocked shots, 74% successful tackles.

EvertonSaint added 13:54 - Apr 7
He has been a great buy and servant to SFC, but I do think it’s time to part company with him. He certainly isn’t the player of 3-4 years ago and I think Ralph is building something special. Sentiment doesn’t come in at this stage of a players career. We need a younger replacement so let him move on. If true, Brentford will be a good fit for him.

KriSaint added 14:39 - Apr 7
A year ago I thought Bertrand didn't always give his all and it annoyed me. Then, suddenly, he improved, and I think he has done consistently well for quite a while and I'm happy with him. He is a solid PL left back, and I hope he stays with Saints for the rest of his career. He is an intelligent guy, and I think he has looked after himself well enough to play at least 2 more seasons on a good level. Please stay, Bertie.

underweststand added 08:16 - Apr 9
Ryan is such a likeable fellow, and his contribution in the last 6-7 years really has been enormous, even to the extent of getting capped for England whilst playing for what is often referred to as "an unpopular " non-London based club.
Whichever way you look at it, at 31 he's reached the crossroads and sooner or later - he will go. If he is able to maintain the required Prem. standard for another 2-3 years is a huge question, and he has already " seen off " the likes of Matt Targett (and most likely Jake Vokins, too).... and yet we still have no obvious cover for the LB spot.

Whatever he decides, he may not have totally severed his ties to the club, but at this stage of his career he will still want to play, but precisely WHERE is the key question.
A move to a London club may not be out of the question, as we see that Cedric has found his place at Arsenal, where his experience is showing up well under Artega.


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