With the addition of Filipe Luis at left-back this summer—and Cesar Azpilicueta proving a season ago that he could feature on the left despite being naturally right-footed—Ryan Bertrand clearly became surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.
Not surprisingly, the club has decided to let him go out on loan to Southampton this season, per Chelsea's official Twitter account:
The team's site added the following:
Ryan Bertrand has today completed a loan move to Southampton until the end of the season.
Bertrand, a Chelsea Academy product, made his Chelsea debut in April 2011 and just over a year later lifted the Champions League on his first European outing for the club. He remains the only player ever to make his European bow in the final of the competition.
The 24-year-old left-back has played 57 times for our first team and has gained two England caps.
Bertrand is certainly excited by the move, per Squawka Football:
Ryan Bertrand: “This is another chance to play and a chance to join a fantastic club that’s moving in the right direction.” #SaintsFC— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 30, 2014
The move makes sense, as even before Luis joined this summer, Bertrand went out on loan to Aston Villa last January. It's beginning to look less and less likely that he has any future at Chelsea, at least with Jose Mourinho calling the shots.
Bertrand started 16 matches for Aston Villa after making the switch last season, though he failed to score a goal or notch an assist and earned a mediocre 6.43 average match rating from WhoScored.com. Per the site, he averaged 1.8 tackles, 0.9 interceptions and 0.1 successful crosses per match.
Sam Tighe of Bleacher Report thinks the move is an excellent one for the Saints, however:
Ryan Bertrand to #SaintsFC on loan. Lovely pickup for them. Relieves pressure on Matty Targett too.— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) July 30, 2014
@hildoisagones A lot of Villa fans weren't as high on Bertrand as I am, but I maintain he was a good performer every week— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) July 30, 2014
Southampton supporters will certainly be pleased to be bringing a player into the club rather than watching another top star depart. The club has already lost Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert (all to Liverpool), Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw, while Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez could be the next ones to go.
While Bertrand alone won't stop the bleeding—and he's certainly not an upgrade over Shaw at left-back—he's a solid enough player with Premier League experience who should be an instant contributor. It's a mutually beneficial situation, as Bertrand will get his playing time while Southampton can spend another season grooming Matty Targett.
As the summer winds to a close, it continues to seem unlikely that Southampton will come anywhere close to replicating last year's eighth-place finish. But with a few more smart (though unsexy) additions like Bertrand, they'll survive one of the largest talent purges a club has seen in recent memory.