Southampton star Ryan Bertrand has been outstanding so far this season, prompting the question of why Chelsea decided to let him go during the 2015 January transfer window.
The 26-year-old left-back joined Chelsea as a youngster in 2006 and subsequently spent a number of years out on loan at the likes of Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and later Southampton.
Bertrand always had plenty of potential, yet breaking through with Chelsea was always a tough ask with Ashley Cole and later Cesar Azpilicueta holding down the regular left-back spot at Stamford Bridge.
However, with time on his side, the Blues decided to cast him aside in the summer of 2014 and bring in Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis to challenge Azpilicueta for a first-team spot.
It was a decision which saw Bertrand join the Saints on an initial season-long loan, before making his stay at St. Mary’s a permanent one during the January transfer window.
|Tackles per Game||Interceptions per Game||Effective Clearances per Game||Def Duels Won per Game||Ball Recoveries per Game||Accurate Passes per Game||Accurate Crosses per Game||Appearances|
As per the table provided by Opta Stats, Bertrand’s superb performances can be illustrated by his noteworthy contributions in a number of key defensive categories.
His form the Saints has seen him recently earn an international call-up, and furthermore win the praise of his boss Ronald Koeman who branded Bertrand the best left-back in the Premier League.
Ironically, his superb form on the south coast is in quite some contrast to Chelsea’s dire league form.
Jose Mourinho’s men have lost seven top-flight matches already, and one key area of weakness has been a flimsy defence which has conceded 23 league goals in just 12 games.
Branislav Ivanovic has been so poor that Azpilicueta has taken his place at right-back, opening up a space at left-back for new summer signing Baba Rahman to stake his claim for a regular spot.
But, as shown by the table above, the former Augsburg man has struggled so far and in a direct head-to-head with Bertrand he comes out a clear second best in six key categories.
Southampton’s Luke Shaw replacement averages more interceptions, effective clearances, defensive duels won, ball recoveries, accurate passes and accurate crosses per league encounter.
While it’s debatable that Bertrand is the best left-back in England currently, what is without question is his current form makes Chelsea’s decision to cast him off so lightly all the more foolish.