Turning 25 in the summer, the time is now for Ryan Bertrand to finally leave Chelsea in pursuit of first team football.

No longer a young prospect, the left sided player cannot afford to wait any longer for opportunities at Stamford Bridge. Although Ashley Cole will allegedly no longer be an obstacle to Bertrand’s hopes of first team football, the rumours are strongly suggesting that this is a move to pave the way for Luke Shaw’s arrival in the summer.

At a club that regularly looks for a £30million quick fix rather than the internal promotion of personnel, the 24-year-old cannot afford to wait in expectation.

Bertrand is just one of many “victims” of Chelsea’s extensive loan network. Since signing professional terms with the club, the left back has been loaned out to six different clubs throughout the Football League.

Having appeared frequently in the 2012-13 campaign, the return of Jose Mourinho had seen Bertrand frozen out of first team affairs. At the time the Englishman signed on loan for Aston Villa, BBC Sport reported that he is incredibly the 24th Chelsea player to be farmed out on temporary agreements.

The incredible rumours linking Romelu Lukaku with a transfer in the summer tends to suggest that there is almost nothing one of these loan players can do to force their way into the first team reckoning at Stamford Bridge. Having notched an impressive 17 league goals at West Brom last season, the Belgian has proven his consistency with 12 goals at Everton so far.

With plenty of time to improve at just the age of 20, it is absurd to think Lukaku is deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge, especially considering the form of the other forwards currently at Mourinho’s disposal.

Bertrand isn’t the only player that has become trapped in Chelsea’s extensive loan network. Since causing a furore over the nature of his arrival at Stamford Bridge, Gael Kakuta has been loaned out to five separate clubs having made a token number of appearances for the Blues. Josh McEachran, once a much vaunted midfield prospect, is currently on loan at Wigan Athletic and looks increasingly unlikely to make the breakthrough at his parent club.

Bertrand is the focus of this article but it could easily apply to so many of the those that have been farmed out this season.

Having ousted Joe Bennett as Paul Lambert’s preferred choice at left back since joining in January, Bertrand himself has recognised that the time is now for him to play regularly, whether that is at Chelsea or not. The defender recently claimed in an interview that “there’s no more waiting around for me in terms of wanting to be a Chelsea player.” With the season drawing to a close, Bertrand asserted that “come the summer I need to be the No.1 left-back, wherever that will be.”

This is in spite of Mourinho’s claims that the player still has a future at Stamford Bridge. When asked about the left back’s impressive form at Villa, the “Special One” outlined his view that Bertrand “has a future at Chelsea.”

But the Englishman no longer has the time to wait around on weak guarantees. If a suitable offer is made in the summer, the player should selfishly do what is best for his own career.

With rumours suggesting that Lambert is keen to tie the player down on a permanent deal, Bertrand has refused to rule out a move to Villa Park by stating “staying here isn’t something I would rule out.” Liverpool are another side that are said to be strongly interested in the left back’s situation at Chelsea.

If Bertrand decides to call time on his stint at Stamford Bridge, there will be plenty of suitors within the Premier League vying for his signature.

Bertrand played his part in Chelsea’s famous Champions League triumph but he cannot afford to sit around and wait for another speculative call up to the first team. Regular football at Villa has whet the left-back’s appetite for first team football and come the summer, the defender needs to the first choice, wherever that may be.

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