Ryan Bertrand ready to graft to make it at the Bridge after turning down Liverpool move

Bertrand opts to stay at club he joined as a 15-year-old from Gillingham in hope of being Cole's successor

Kuala Lumpur

Ryan Bertrand has turned down a move to Liverpool this summer to pursue his dream of being Ashley Cole’s successor at left-back for Chelsea, and a status as the club’s first academy boy to establish himself in the first team since John Terry more than a decade ago.

The interest from Liverpool was real but instead Bertrand has opted to stay at the club he joined as a 15-year-old from Gillingham in the hope of being the successor when Cole finally does call it a day at Stamford Bridge. At a club that is capable of signing some of the most expensive players in the world, that is a risk but it is one Bertrand is prepared to take.

He takes confidence from his record last season – 38 appearances for the first team – which followed on from that run he had in the side in May last year which culminated in a place in the 2012 Champions League final team. If the masterplan had worked out for Chelsea, they would have a first team squad full of players like Bertrand who had made it through from their academy but it has not turned out like that.

Bertrand, 23, was one of the first players signed in 2005 under the Frank Arnesen era, although he was a target of the club before then, He recalls impressing in a match against a Chelsea youth team and being aware that he had been scouted before then. It has taken him a long time, and loans spells at five clubs starting in 2006, to get to a point where he can consider himself a first team player.

With three years on his contract, has no desire to give up on his dream of playing for the club. “Obviously I want to be Chelsea's No1 left-back, and when that time comes it will happen,” he said yesterday ahead of Chelsea’s game against a Malaysia select XI on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur. “All I can do is be ready and keep playing, keep biding my time. I just concentrate on progressing in the games I get, and I've managed to do so in recent years. That's the only target I have.”

Had Cole decided that this summer was his time to go then this pre-season would look very different for Bertrand. Chelsea would undoubtedly have been in the market for a left-back but they would have a decision to make as to whether that player was a first-choice or an understudy to Bertrand. As it is, with Cole signing a one-year extension, Bertrand knows where he stands.

“I wasn't really focused on it [Cole’s future] to be honest. I was just concentrating on myself, regardless of what happened. [If Cole had left there would have been] another left-back anyway, so it won't be: 'As soon as Ash goes, there we are, it's mine.' The work will still be there to do.

“That's the way it is at the top level. You have to be able to compete. That's just the way it is, and it's the place I want to be. So I'm used to that.”

In the debate over the desperately dwindling numbers of English players in the Premier League – especially the leading clubs – Bertrand could almost be considered a test case. Here is a player who has made it into the first team at a club notoriously poor at promoting academy boys. What is unusual about his situation is that it is an Englishman keeping him out the team rather than an foreign signing. Can he hang in there?

It has taken Bertrand plenty of hard graft to get to where he is and he can hardly be accused of being one of those who think they have made it when the first pro deal is signed. He has flogged himself around loan spells at Bournemouth, Oldham, Norwich City, Reading and Nottingham Forest before, in his own words, he decided “there comes a time when you have to say, ‘Righ,t I am going to spend some time back at the club and see what happens’”.

He played 15 games in the 2011-2012 season which ended with that remarkable night in Munich before making significant progress last season. “The final against Bayern was phenomenal when I think back to Gillingham, the training ground there, the stadium,” he said. “That was what I was used to and to go right the way to the Champions League final was humbling when I look at where I have come from.”

He does not share the gloom about the next generation of English footballers and he says that the failure to bring players through at Chelsea cannot be laid just at the club’s door. “Some players may see their opportunities better elsewhere. It's not just about the club bringing them through. It has to suit the players as well.” Although for that academy, there is much riding on Bertrand’s success.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent