Chelsea have joined two of their Premier League rivals in the battle to sign Southampton full-back Ryan Bertrand, according to the Daily Mirror.
The Blues have made up the numbers to make it a three-club pursuit for the 27-year-old after Bertrand apparently stunned the Saints by stating his desire to leave the south coast.
Southampton were already preparing themselves for the inevitable departure of Virgin van Dijk, who is supposedly on the cusp of a £60m switch to Liverpool, and the latest revelation from Bertrand is sure to throw their summer plans into greater disarray.
Bertrand’s supposed decision to walk away from Southampton has piqued the interest of Chelsea, who are on the lookout for defensive reinforcements as they plot a way to defend their Premier League crown next term.
Antonio Conte’s men will, however, face fierce competition for his signing with Manchester City and Liverpool also believed to be vying for his services.
City would provide the biggest obstacle to Chelsea in getting any reported moved over the line, with the Citizens having been following Bertrand for a number of months as they look to revolutionise their own options at full-back at the Etihad.
Citizens boss Pep Guardiola has allowed Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy to leave after their contracts at the club expired, and the Spaniard views Bertrand as a potential new recruit to bring stability and attacking verve to his team.
Chelsea would use Bertrand to provide stern competition to number one left wing-back Marcos Alonso, and the England international may end up favouring a move back to Stamford Bridge if he feels he has something to prove following his departure from London in the summer of 2015.
The Blues will also hope that Bertrand is put off a move to City if the latter manage to complete a big-money move for Monaco star Benjamin Mendy – the 22-year-old who would surely be first choice in Manchester if he arrives for a reported £40m fee.
Reports that Ryan Bertrand could cost as little as £20m! Is it just me or is that not a bargain for a very capable EPL-proven full-back?!
— Freddie Pye (@MCFCFreddie) June 6, 2017
Liverpool, who are also on the lookout for a new left-back, are rank outsiders for Bertrand as the Saints seemingly grow tired of the Reds poaching their best players.
The Anfield-based side have already raided Southampton for Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane and Nathaniel Clyne in recent times, and Claude Puel’s men would be set against allowing Bertrand and Van Dijk to leave for the same club in the same window much like their predecessors.
Bertrand, who rose through the youth ranks at Chelsea before his £11m switch to St.Mary’s two summers ago after a successful season-long loan spell, has made 107 appearances in all competitions for Southampton.
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