Arsenal have stepped up their pursuit of Southampton star Ryan Bertrand, who they are hoping to sign on a free transfer in the summer.
The 31-year-old has spent the last seven years at St Mary’s, but will walk away from the club at the end of the season having failed to agree terms on a new contract.
Arsenal have previously been linked with a move for Bertrand, and the Daily Mail report that talks have ‘intensified’ now that his departure from the south coast has been confirmed.
The Gunners are not the only Premier League club waiting in the wings, however. Newly crowned Premier League champions Manchester City have also been credited with an ongoing interest, given they’ve been unable to find a consistent, experienced player to fill in on the left hand side of their defence.
Bertrand wouldn’t be first choice at the Etihad Stadium, and the Gunners are hopeful that – and the fact they’ve already initiated talks – may give them the edge over the Cityzens.
Arsenal are in desperate need for reinforcements, having allowed Sead Kolasinac to leave the club in January. That meant that Kieran Tierney was the only natural left-back in the squad heading into the final months of the season, and injuries to the Scotsman have left Mikel Arteta particularly short in that area.
Granit Xhaka has been asked to fill in at left-back on occasion, but that is certainly not a long-term option for Arteta. It’s unlikely that the Spaniard will have millions of pounds to spend this summer either, so a free transfer would prove a shrewd piece of business.
Bertrand’s arrival would provide decent competition for Tierney, while also offering an abundance of Premier League experience should the Scot succumb to injuries in the future.
19-cap England international Bertrand has been a regular feature for Southampton ever since he arrived on loan from Chelsea, a move that was made permanent in February 2015. He has made almost 250 appearances for the club, starring in their run to the Carabao Cup final in 2017.