Wednesday 21 March 2018

Liverpool knocked back in chase for Bertrand

Ryan Bertrand wants to be Chelsea’s number one left back
Ryan Bertrand wants to be Chelsea’s number one left back

Jeremy Wilson and Jason Burt

Chelsea have rejected an approach from Liverpool for Ryan Bertrand, their 23-year-old left-back. Bertrand is understudy at Chelsea to Ashley Cole but has reiterated his desire to stay and eventually succeed Cole as first choice for club and country.

Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, has made it clear that he wants more world-class talent to emerge from the academy and there is a particular hope that Bertrand can follow John Terry in becoming a first-team regular.

Bertrand, though, clearly needs some additional playing time at this early stage of his career and a lack of first-team opportunities risks stalling his progress. "I want to be Chelsea's number one left-back," he said. "All I can do is be ready and keep playing, keep biding my time. It won't be, 'As soon as Ash goes, there we are, it's mine'. The work will still be there to do."

Bertrand, though, admitted that England assistant manager Gary Neville might have a point when he recently claimed that it was becoming more difficult for top English players to emerge.

"Possibly, if you take the amount of English players playing in the Premier League compared to foreigners," he said. "I'm pretty sure there is more than enough talent in the England set-up. The future can be good. Patience is the key. I'm thinking of nothing else. I am just focusing on being number one here."

Liverpool got their pre-season tour off to a winning start as goals from Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling handed them a comfortable 2-0 win over an Indonesia XI in Jakarta.

Frank Lampard, meanwhile, is expected to be rested from Chelsea's pre-season fixture against Malaysia today after missing training yesterday with an injury to his Achilles tendon.

Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have all inquired about the £20m-rated Brazilian forward Bernard. The Premier League trio face competition from Porto and Shakhtar Donestk for the 20-year-old, who is set to leave Atletico Mineiro after the Copa Libertadores final second leg on July 24.

That match is a trigger date for negotiations to begin in earnest to sign Bernard, who broke into the senior Brazil national team last season and is part of Luiz Felipe Scolari's plans for the World Cup finals next summer.

Bernard has been admired by Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas for some time. Indeed he urged the club to make a bid last summer, but they face stiff competition from a number of other leading clubs throughout Europe.

Bernard is a quick wide player, who can also come inside, primarily from the left, and although there have been some concerns about his size – he is just 5ft 5in – he has developed into an exciting, goalscoring attacker.

A fee of £20m would appear to be high for a player who may take some time to adjust to the pace and power of the Premier League.

Nevertheless Arsenal and Liverpool have also now joined the bidding, with Bernard having already hinted that he is ready to leave after the return leg against Paraguay's Olimpia next Wednesday. Tottenham are also considering cheaper options for the role, including FC Twente's Nacer Chadli, who is in the final year of his contract and would cost significantly less than Bernard. So far Tottenham have not made a bid for the 23-year-old Belgium international winger, whom Shakhtar also covet.

Tottenham remain in the market for a top-class striker, with Emmanuel Adebayor up for sale, but suffered a setback when Christian Benteke withdrew his transfer request and signed a new deal at Aston Villa.

Tottenham had bid £18m for Benteke and were considering an improved bid later in the window. However, they would have been unlikely to meet Villa's expected asking price of £25m.


Irish Independent

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