Will Ashley Cole’s new deal hold back Ryan Bertrand?

Ashley Cole is quite possibly England’s greatest ever left back, but will his recently signed one year contract extension hold back a possible future England full back for both club and country?

Ryan Bertrand will have nearly turned 25 by the time Cole’s current contract expires and the Chelsea youth product would be forgiven for looking elsewhere for regular football.  Bertrand has played second fiddle to Cole at Chelsea since making his first team debut in April 2011, following successful loan spells at Oldham, Norwich, Reading and Nottingham Forest.  Since making his debut, Bertrand has displayed the ability to patrol the left flank both as Cole’s understudy and as a left winger.  This culminated in his shock inclusion in Roberto Di Matteo’s starting line up for the 2012 Champions League Final, becoming the first player to make his European debut in the final.

There is no doubt that on reported wages of over £200k-a-week, Cole will remain the first choice left back at Stamford Bridge.  However, in the mean time the career of Bertrand runs the risk of stagnating, something he can ill afford to happen at such a crucial stage of his career.  At International level, Leighton Baines is understandably considered understudy to Cole, thanks to a string of marauding performances down the left hand side at Goodison Park for Everton.  However, at 28, Baines himself is in his prime and runs the risk of missing the boat for a stint as England’s regular number 3.

Cole’s longevity could create an opportunity for Bertrand an international level, but he needs to be playing week in week out at club level as quickly as possible.  For me, Bertrand needs to move away from Stamford Bridge in search of regular starts, failure to do so may see him eclipsed by next in line, Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs.  There would be no shortage of Premier League takers for Bertrand who could be England’s number 3 for years to come.

Aaron Sharp