Jose Mourinho announced on Friday Ryan Bertrand has left Stamford Bridge to join Aston Villa on loan for the rest of the 2013-14 season.
Villa quickly confirmed the news via their official website, quoting Bertrand:
It's a fantastic opportunity for me to come here. Aston Villa is a fantastic club with a massive fanbase and a great history. To get this chance to come here and play some games will be a really good step for me.
Whenever I've played for Chelsea here at Villa Park the fans have been fantastic and have always created a great atmosphere. The pitch, too, has always been great, including when we played in the Community Shield here against Manchester City, and I'm looking forward to playing on it more regularly until the end of the season.
Speaking in his Friday press conference, Mourinho also claimed Kevin de Bruyne is close to the club's exit, with Wolfsburg tipped by Sky Sports as the Belgian's most likely destination.
The official Chelsea Twitter account tracked the Portuguese's pre-match talk:
Mourinho says Kevin De Bruyne is close to leaving the club and Ryan Bertrand is set to join Aston Villa on loan. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) January 17, 2014
Mourinho says Ryan Bertrand is a great player but needs time on the pitch. He will go on loan until the end of the season. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) January 17, 2014
Bertrand has long been tipped as a potential successor to Ashley Cole, but the wealth of big-name talent in West London has meant that he and other homegrown assets have found it near impossible to break the first-team mould.
This season, the 24-year-old has made just three appearances across all competitions, per Transfermarkt.co.uk, and the promise of playing time is far greater at Villa Park, where Paul Lambert has proven himself to be a fan of upcoming English talent.
Summer signing Antonio Luna has stood out as the main left-back option at Villa Park this term, but the Spaniard, nicknamed "Tony Moon," has shown weaknesses in that period.
The 2012-13 campaign was a breakthrough season for Bertrand, who started in 14 of the Blues' Premier League games, per Transfermarkt.co.uk, after featuring for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics.
Is a loan move the right choice for Bertrand?
Since then, however, even right-back Cesar Azpilicueta has superseded the Englishman in Chelsea's pecking order, filling in on the left side of defence while Cole was going through a period of dropped form this term.
With minutes limited at the club, a temporary switch offers Bertrand the opportunity to stake a claim when he returns to West London this summer, at which time Cole's Chelsea contract could have expired.
The English giants are yet to agree an extension with the 33-year-old, Mourinho seemingly less confident in the veteran's abilities during his second reign as Chelsea boss.
Bertrand may still find himself a part of Chelsea's first-team plans in future, although the club have been linked with a move for Southampton left-back Luke Shaw.
Earlier this week, The Guardian's Paul Doyle hinted that the resignation of Saints chairman Nicola Cortese could encourage Chelsea to launch a bid for the 18-year-old.
For now at least, Mourinho's only concern will be to see how Bertrand progresses during his time in Birmingham, with Villa securing the services of a player who could go on to achieve big things, but simply hasn't had the opportunity to show his talents.