Chelsea aren’t a club averse to bringing back players they’ve previously sold if they believe they can help the club.
In recent years, both Nemanja Matić and David Luiz have been brought back from Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain after being allowed to leave Stamford Bridge.
Romelu Lukaku, who left for Everton in 2014, is thought to be a Chelsea transfer target in the summer.
But, according to Italian sports daily Tuttosport, there is another ex-Blue who joins him on Antonio Conte’s wish list.
Ryan Bertrand, who was at Chelsea between 2005 and 2015 and started the Champions League final in 2012, is reported to be part of a three-man list of players handed to owner Roman Abramovich by Conte, alongside Lukaku and Alexis Sánchez.
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Where would Bertrand play at Chelsea?
While the Blues have also been linked with fellow Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk, there would definitely also be logic in bringing Bertrand back to Stamford Bridge.
The 27-year-old would be able to play to positions in the 3-4-3 formation used so well by Conte this season, either at left centre-back or left wing-back.
Since Claude Puel replaced Ronald Koeman at Southampton in the summer, Saints have tended to play with four at the back, meaning Bertrand has mainly been a left-back last season.
But under Koeman before that, he was regularly used on the left side of a back three.
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It’s a role in the squad that is currently taken up by Nathan Aké, but he has failed to dislodge either Gary Cahill or Marcos Alonso since his return from Bournemouth in January, and it’s likely the Dutchman will leave West London in the summer.
With Chelsea competing both domestically and in Europe next season, it makes perfect sense for Conte to want someone with the flexibility of playing those two positions.
If Aké were to leave Stamford Bridge, there would be no real cover for Alonso – Pedro and César Azpilicueta have played that role on occasion, but they are both important parts of the system in different positions.
And with John Terry almost certainly departing in the summer, a centre-back option would be useful.
How does Bertrand compare to Alonso?
We’ve had a look at the Premier League statistics of Bertrand and Alonso this season, comparing the two, as you would imagine the Southampton defender would be most likely to play on the left if he does come back to Stamford Bridge.
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Alonso has been involved in more goals this season – six (four goals and two assists) – than Bertrand (a goal and four assists).
And the England international’s higher assist rate is no real surprise when you see he creates just over a chance every 90 minutes – the Spaniard creates 0.86.
In terms of passing, Bertrand is just generally superior to Alonso.
He’s involved more, making 44.87 passes per 90 minutes compared to 42.78, while his pass accuracy is also better – 83 per cent compared to 77 per cent.
But the Chelsea man is better at taking his man on – he completes 0.68 successful take ons per 90 minutes compared to Bertrand’s 0.53, with a much better completion rate too – 65.22 per cent rather than 38.46 per cent, meaning Alonso attempts less take ons, but is much more adept at completing them.
In terms of defensive statistics, per 90 minutes, Alonso wins more tackles (1.31 to 0.95) and makes more clearances (3.35 to 2.17), but Bertrand makes more interceptions (1.75 to 1.63).
But as is the case with most defensive stats, you have to take into account it could be down to the style of play or an error in play previously.
And another key point maybe that of height.
The Blues aren’t the biggest team and Alonso offers an aerial threat, but Bertrand is just 5’10’’, while the Spaniard is 6’2’’.
How does Bertrand compare to Cahill?
If Bertrand comes to Chelsea and is employed in the left centre-back role, he’d have to oust Gary Cahill, the current incumbent in that position.
And the league statistics defensively lean to the current Chelsea man.
Cahill wins more of his aerial duels (62.28 per cent compared to 43.75 per cent) and in fact, the Chelsea vice-captain wins more of his duels in total (56.04 per cent rather than 46.63 per cent).
He also makes more passes per 90 minutes (50.64 to 44.87) with a higher passing accuracy (89 per cent to 83 per cent).
Cahill also makes more clearances per 90 minutes (4.73 to 2.17), but Bertrand makes more interceptions (1.75 to 1.47) and wins more tackles (0.95 to 0.9).
But obviously you have to take into account that for this season, the pair have been playing completely different positions.
And Conte has form for honing players in positions that aren’t necessarily ones you would assume were their natural ones at Chelsea – just look at Victor Moses and César Azpilicueta.
Perhaps Bertrand feels he’s got unfinished business at Stamford Bridge too.