The Guardian recently reported that Chelsea have rejected a Liverpool enquiry for Ryan Bertrand. This was a surprising show of loyalty from Chelsea because whilst Bertrand has been at the club for some time he is far from being considered a key player. Obviously his role at Chelsea is that of a back-up left-back with a view to taking over from Ashley Cole when the current number one eventually retires.
The problem is that Bertrand is tasked with taking over from one of the most successful full-backs of all time. Despite his controversial public profile, Cole will go down as possibly one of the finest left-backs in history and Bertrand will struggle to replace him. Bertrand has been a fantastic servant to the club since he moved to Chelsea in 2005 aged just 15. He started more and more games last season and as Cole gets older it is obvious Bertrand is becoming a more important figure at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have possibly missed a trick by not selling Bertrand. Because English players tend to have elevated values in the Premier League, Chelsea could have commanded a fee of anywhere from £8 million right up to £15 million for him. Using this money, the club could have invested in a flying full-back like Southampton’s Luke Shaw. The teenager produced performances that belied his years last season and at just 18 years of age he has so much scope for development.
They both have a long way to go to emulate Cole though. This wasn’t the strongest season for Cole by any means but he still managed to rack up a Performance Score of 964 in 31 appearances. Bertrand scored 262 in 19 appearances whilst Shaw managed 352 in 25 appearances. The Southampton youngster had a poorer passing accuracy than both Cole and Bertrand but the Chelsea duo were playing in a team which generally sees a lot more of the ball. Shaw is often under far more pressure and although people say that it is easier for youngsters at smaller clubs because of increased game time it can actually be harder because of the increased responsibility. Interestingly, Shaw won far more his tackles than either of the Chelsea boys, winning 43 out of 51 tackles. Cole won 47 out of 64 and Bertrand 14 out of 23.
Clearly Shaw represents a massive gamble for Chelsea because he is only 18 years old and because he might not fulfil his potential. If he does fulfil it, then he has the ability to be a far better player than Bertrand could ever be. Bertrand is clearly the safer option because Chelsea know what they are going to get from him but in the age of Chelsea signing young players, they should take a chance on Shaw.
Perhaps Chelsea are unwilling to cash in on Bertrand as the last time they let a promising young English full-back leave it was Glen Johnson and he ended up at Liverpool and he now has a remarkable habit of scoring against his former club. Also no youth player since John Terry has established himself in the Chelsea first team and Bertrand could be the player to break that trend, albeit he was signed from Gillingham when 15.
It was a bold move by Chelsea to snub Liverpool’s enquiries for Bertrand, but it could be a decision they live to regret.