Leicester City are reportedly set to battle with Arsenal for defender Ryan Bertrand who is leaving Southampton on a free transfer this summer.
The 31-year-old has been with Saints since January 2014 when he penned a six-month loan deal from Chelsea. That became permanent in July of that year and he has gone on to make 245 appearances in all competitions. Having come up through the Chelsea youth racks, he spent nine years on the books of the senior side.
However, the left-back enjoyed only 57 outings for the Blues and found himself loaned to many clubs. He spent temporary stints with Bournemouth, Oldham, Norwich City, Reading, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa.
But it is at St Mary’s that he finally found his home and fulfilled his promise. Capped 17 times by England, Bertrand has been a reliable defender for Ralph Hasenhuttl.
But will move on in the off-season, with the club announcing his departure earlier this month.
A statement on the club’s official website read: “Everyone associated with Southampton would like to thank Ryan for his contribution to the history of the club, and for all the memories he has helped create for our fans.”
There may now be a scramble for his signature, with free agents at a premium due to the pandemic. The Gunners were linked in January but The Telegraph are suggesting Leicester will now rival the north Londoners for the player.
Bertrand an insurance policy for Leicester
Sunday’s final match of the campaign against Tottenham will determine whether the Foxes play in next season’s Champions League.
A draw will suffice if Liverpool lose to Crystal Palace while victory will get the job done if Chelsea fail to beat Villa. Whatever happens, Brendan Rodgers will look to add quality to his side in the summer.
There will be European football at the King Power Stadium in 2021-2022, with a Europa League berth guaranteed. And, with that in mind, an experienced campaigner such as Bertrand might appeal.
Christian Fuchs will be on his way at the end of the season and Rodgers needs cover for James Justin. Ricardo Pereira and Timothy Castagne are more comfortable on the right side of defence while Luke Thomas is inexperienced.
The Northern Irish tactician is a known admirer of the Londoner. He worked with him at Chelsea and reportedly wanted him at Anfield when in charge of Liverpool.
One stumbling block might be his length of contract, with Bertrand said to want two years and the East Midlanders favouring one.
The race is one for his signature, with Arsenal said to have held advanced talks with his representatives last week.