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Arsenal January target up for grabs as Prem club confirm summer exit

Southampton have confirmed that Arsenal-linked full-back Ryan Bertrand will leave in the summer when his contract expires.

The left-back joined Southampton in 2015 from Chelsea after several loan spells away from Stamford Bridge. However, he has enjoyed long-term stability since then, racking up 240 appearances for the Saints. With his current deal coming to a close at the end of the campaign, though, a decision was looming over his future.

Southampton confirmed on Wednesday that the 31-year-old will leave the south coast club.

A statement on the club’s official website read: “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.”

Bertrand has proved a vital figure for the Saints since his move and was rewarded in 2012 with an England debut.

He went on to pick up 18 further caps but dropped out of the team in 2017.

Nevertheless, his domestic contributions have proved consistent; the full-back has played 29 of 35 Premier League matches this term.

As such, he reportedly attracted the attention of Arsenal in the January transfer window.

The Gunners could be looking for a new full-back this summer, with Hector Bellerin’s future uncertain. While the Spaniard operates on the right, Bertrand has filled in there once this season.

In fact, one pundit believes that Bertrand would be a solid acquisition for under-fire manager Mikel Arteta.

Pundit backs Bertrand, Arsenal transfer

Speaking before the Gunners’ Europa League exit to Villarreal, Michael Thomas said: “I think Arteta needs to finish the season on a high with the Europa League and try and get more of his own players integrated into the team.

“If then he cannot get his group of players to perform then Arsenal as a club will have to decide where they go from there.

“I’d say a minimum of five signings are needed: a right-back (Achraf Hakimi), left-back (Ryan Bertrand), central midfield (Yves Bissouma and Martin Odegaard), and a left winger.”

READ MORE: Arsenal told to target trio as pundit advises Arteta on transfer options

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