Southampton have confirmed that Arsenal and AC Milan target Ryan Bertrand will leave the club for free this summer.
Bertrand has spent the last six years of his career on Southampton’s books, scoring eight goals in 240 appearances, but he will walk through the St Mary’s exit doors at the end of the 2020-21 season after failing to reach an extension agreement with the club.
The Saints have announced the 31-year-old’s departure, thanking him for his sterling contribution to their cause while insisting he will always hold a special place in the heart of the club’s supporters.
“Southampton Football Club can today confirm that Ryan Bertrand will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season,” a statement on the club’s official website read. “Bertrand was a key part of the team during one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.
“Whilst that time will always be fondly remembered, the club and Ryan have agreed that now is the time to respectfully part ways and move forward on different paths.
“Everyone associated with Southampton would like to thank Ryan for his contribution to the history of the club, and for all the memories he has helped create for our fans.
“He will forever be welcome at St Mary’s and Staplewood and will always be a Saint.”
It has been reported that Bertrand took the decision to leave St Mary’s after rejecting a renewal offer, but the England international has taken to social media to clarify the situation.
Bertrand also said his goodbyes to Southampton supporters in a post on Twitter, which reads: “After many months of hard decision making, I have decided to leave Southampton Football Club.
“This has only been decided in the last 48 hours and comments that I had not accepted an offer previously are not true.
“This has been a difficult decision for me, but the time has come for me to seek a new challenge and find a new home that allows me the freedom to play and maximise my contribution to the team.
“I want to thank all the fans for welcoming me to this football club and supporting me endlessly. All the support staff behind the scenes, I thank you.”
Bertrand won’t be short on options when he leaves the Saints, with Goal having reported that Arsenal, Milan and Monaco are all competing for his signature.
The Gunners are hoping to win the race for Bertrand after seeing a January approach rejected, while newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester City have also shown an interest.