Ralph Focusing Saints On Next Season Could Be Bad News For Ryan Bertrand.
Monday, 26th Apr 2021 09:10
Ralph Hasenhuttl has hinted that with Saints season petering out to a disappointing end after promising so much that now he will be focusing on building up his squad for next season and that could be bad news for out of contract Ryan Bertrand.
Ralph Hasenhuttl seems to admire loyalty in his players and likes to have a squad that is committed to the cause, a year ago when football restarted after the first Covid 19 wave, Hasenhuttl took the decision to drop want away Pierre Emille Hojbjerg and replace him with out of favour Oriol Romeu.
Ralph had this to say about it.
“I think this gave us the chance to build something up and is maybe one of the reasons why he had a very good start this season,” continued Hasenhuttl.
“We had this team, we played with Ori and Prowsey in the final six games and we could immediately step up next season and we had the automatism built. This is my responsibility.
“When we don’t know how many players are coming for next season, then I need to face the players that are still here next season.
“This is a normal behaviour that you have to do.”
This proved a wise move as Saints seemed to kick up a gear and Romeu who had been tipped to leave the club in the summer , suddenly found a new lease of life and had he not been injured and ruled out of this season back in February would have pushed James Ward Prowse all the way to the line on the player of the year trophy.
Now Ralph has a similar dilemma with Ryan Bertrand, the long serving left back is out of contract in the summer and although negotiations have been ongoing since before Xmas, no deal has been reached and now it seems that Ralph Hasenhuttl is about to draw a line under the situation and focus on who will be at the club next season.
Bertrand has undoubtedly been a good servant to the club, but all good things must come to an end, he will turn 32 in August and although he is capable of some outstanding displays, age is catching up with him and will continue to do so.
No one can blame him for wanting to try and get the biggest pay day and deal in what will surely be his last contract, but Saints will firstly be relived to get the wages of one of the highest earners at the club off the pay roll and Bertrand has to accept that he will not get anything like the money with a new contract, not just from Saints but elsewhere.
Saints have to weigh up cutting their ties now and getting in someone younger or trying to get another season out of him.
Two years ago they had to make a similar decision between Bertrand & Matt Targett .
Target approaching 24 and with a solid loan spell at Fulham behind him was at an age where he needed to either be first choice or go somewhere that he would be.
Perhaps Aston Villa made up Saints mind with a £16 million bid and Saints decided to take that money and use it elsewhere rather than keep faith with Targett who had shown much promise in his early days when filling in for Bertrand.
So back in the summer of 2019 Saints went for the short term option, possibly because Bertrand's wages meant that there weren't any takers and he wasn't willing to take a pay cut.
In hindsight Targett has come of age at Villa and become the player he looked set to become when he first broke into the side, but at St Mary's he suffered a little from the home grown player syndrome and there were few Saints supporters who disagreed with the decision to sell him two years ago.
But now there is a decision to be made both short term and long, in the long term it is whether we actually want to offer him a new deal at all, it seems that Ralph Hasenhuttl is not impressed by the fact that pen hasn't been put to paper and perhaps feels that the player is more concerned about hanging on to see if a better offer comes in.
That is fine, it is Bertrand's right to do that, but as was shown with Hojbjerg, with Hasenhuttl you are either committed or not and if you are not then he will prefer a player that is. That may have made up the managers mind going forward for next season, but money will be a factor and the fact is that if Bertrand goes we need to find money to buy in his replacement, but if we keep him another year it will be far cheaper.
So the long term future is unclear for Bertrand, but now it seems the short tem could be just as clouded.
The left back was strangely missing for the trip to Tottenham Hotspur last week and although rumours of injury were mentioned, the club made no definitive statement after the game as to why he was missing, indeed before it Ralph seemed to go out of his way to confirm he had no injuries.
Mohamed Salisu came in at left back and did a decent job, but Hasenhuttl knows he is thin on the ground at full back prompting his manager to say:
Salisu will be a third alternative at left-back if you want,”
“Really, I would like to have two on the left and two on the right next season. We have seen this season that we have always problems. We need to double up in every position.
“It is always good if you can have a player who is more flexible and can play in multiple positions but on the left you should have a left-footed player who can run the line, go deep and deliver balls."
Salisu was signed a year ago to play in his natural position as a central defender, it was assumed that he would form a partenership with Jan Bednarek with Jack Stephens as back up and Jannik Vestergaard as 4th choice and on his way out of the club.
It could be that the sale of Vestergaard this summer will help fund the rebuilding of the squad for next season, with the Danish defender not impressing in recent months.
But in the meantime with only 6 weeks left it could be that Ryan Bertrand is no longer in Ralph's plans and therefore like Hojbjerg will find himself on the bench.
Final word to Hasenhuttl that perhaps points to the direction he will take.
“We have to focus now on what happens next year,”
“This is always normal when you have the chance to stay in the league and then you can concentrate on the players that are here next season."
Photo: Action Images
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