This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
It’s no secret that Southampton have had many a good player cherry picked from their squad over the years.
The Saints have lost the likes of Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama, Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane to top six sides in recent years, but there was one man who never managed to get his big move away despite numerous links – Ryan Bertrand.
The left-back, now 30, was arguably amongst the best Premier League players in his position a few seasons ago and was consequently linked with headline transfers to clubs such as Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United.
For whatever reason, the England international never got his big move away from the South Coast and he could now face the ultimate price – falling into obscurity away from the Saints first-team.
Recently, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl dropped the former Chelsea man for 20-year-old centre-back Kevin Danso for the trip to Brighton. Bertrand had a knock, but the Austrian said that he would’ve made the decision to drop his previous No.1 left-back anyway.
Quite why the former RB Leipzig had this decision in mind remains to be seen, but it could be argued that something isn’t right with Bertrand.
The 30-year-old held the captain’s armband at St Mary’s under Mark Hughes and also in the early days of Hasenhuttl’s reign, but that duty has since been handed to Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – the Dane was captain in Bertrand’s last league appearance, a 2-1 loss to Liverpool.
There have been signs of an attitude problem with Bertrand in the past in terms of complacency and entitlement.
Having been left out of the England squad for the 2018 World Cup, the former Aston Villa defender agreed to an interview in which he makes a big point of telling Gareth Southgate that he was wrong not to select him, saying that it was “perhaps an oversight in the manager’s analysis and I find that hard to take.”
Another glimpse of Bertrand potentially being quite arrogant and cocky can be seen in the clip below, where he purposefully messes up a throw-in by launching the ball further down the touchline, before glancing down to the camera, smiling, winking and tapping his wrist to indicate him pointing to a watch – weirdly, the score at the time was 1-1 in a derby game against Bournemouth.
For one reason or another, Hasenhuttl has seen fit to drop a man who was once the leader of this Southampton side, and at 30 years of age now, it seems like Bertrand faces an uphill battle to ever hit the heights of being linked to the best sides in the country again. He wasn’t even mentioned as a potential candidate for the most recent England squad either – his last Three Lions outing being being nearly two years ago.
Bertrand may have looked at the likes of Shaw, Lallana, Mane and Chambers and expected a similar move away for himself to follow, but he has been left behind by a glittering Southampton alumni. Now not even a guaranteed starter under Hasenhuttl, the ultimate price for that could well be fading into the background at a club that finished 16th in the Premier League last season.