Mikel Arteta has admitted Arsenal are short of left-footed left-backs – but he may not be able to sign transfer target Ryan Bertrand until the summer window should he decide to chase the Southampton defender, according to reports. Bertrand has emerged as an option with his contract at Southampton expiring in six months’ time.
A player with 200 games of Premier League experience and 19 England caps, Bertrand would be a valuable addition to satisfy Arteta’s wishes for better back-up to Kieran Tierney.
Sead Kolasinac was allowed to leave on loan to re-join former club Schalke this month and given he is out of contract in 2022, could be sold permanently by the Gunners in the summer.
In Kolasinac’s absence, Tierney is their only natural left-back;. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Cedric Soares can both deputise there but the duo are both right-footed.
Bukayo Saka has also previously thrived at left-back for Arsenal but is currently starring for Arteta out on the right wing in the place of Nicolas Pepe and Willian.
Arteta said this week: “We have some options. A natural option to Kieran? Obviously, we don’t [have that]. But we can adapt.”
Asked about potentially signed a new left-back, Arteta said: “That means that the option is open and we will look to see what is available.”
And the Evening Standard say that a number of players are being monitored but that Bertrand is among them having entered the final six months of his contract at St Mary’s.
A summer departure is plausible although he has only missed one of their 18 Premier League matches this season, completing the full 90 minutes in 16 of his 17 top-flight appearances.
The Saints have no competition for 31-year-old Bertrand on the left side of the defence and will refuse to lose him this month, however.
The player is stalling over signing a new contract with it thought he wants a return to a Champions League-chasing team.
Southampton will not break their wage structure to keep him or Danny Ings, who is also thought to be eyeing a move to a top six club, at the club into next season.
And so England international Bertrand could be allowed to leave, but the Standard say that with the defender a guaranteed starter for Ralph Hasenhuttl, January bids will not be entertained and they will allow him to go for nothing in the summer instead.
While Arteta would ideally like to sign a left-back to offer immediate cover for the excellent Tierney, it appears if he wants to sign Bertrand that he will be made to wait.
Goal have said former Chelsea academy graduate Bertrand will not sign a new contract with Southampton unless he gets a significant pay rise.
Were he to move to the Emirates, Bertrand would count as a homegrown player and a deal would make a lot of sense given he is also still a high-level performer and is an attack-minded left-back with an ability to get forward and deliver a danger cross.
Premier League clubs are required to have a maximum of 17 non-homegrown players in their squad and so signing an English back-up to Tierney would be valuable for the north London club as they already have an overflow of overseas stars.
However, it appears Arteta will have to make do with Maitland-Niles, Cedric and Saka as right-footed back-up options to Tierney until the summer if he does want to sign Bertrand, that or he will have to move on to an alternative target.
Bertrand still lives in London and according to the Standard would apparently be happy to remain with Southampton if a new deal could be agreed.
But it appears more likely that he will move on at the end of the season which means Arsenal could sign an out-of-contract Saints full-back on a free for the second successive summer after the permanent addition of Cedric Soares back in June.
Arsenal meanwhile have signed back-up goalkeeper Mat Ryan on loan from Brighton for the remainder of the season and are eager to complete a temporary six-month deal to bring in attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid.