Chelsea have knocked back an inquiry from Liverpool over the potential availability of Ryan Bertrand, with the 23-year-old left-back seeking to take what opportunities he can with the Europa League winners.
The Londoner, who has two England caps, is Ashley Cole's understudy at Stamford Bridge and, with the veteran having signed a new one-year contract at the club, will go into the new campaign as second choice once again. José Mourinho has spoken to Bertrand about the role he will play in the season ahead – talks the player described as "very positive", with Chelsea's decision to deflect Liverpool's interest an indication of his standing.
The full-back is contracted until 2016 and, having featured in 38 of the Londoners' 69 games last term, will have a significant role to play again with Cole's ankle condition – the joints tend to swell up after matches, requiring rest and recovery time – and the lack of alternative options. "I want to be Chelsea's No1 left-back, and when that time comes it will happen," Bertrand said. "All I can do is be ready and keep playing, keep biding my time. I'm thinking of nothing else. I am just focusing on being No1, concentrating on progression in the games I get, and I've managed to do so in recent years.
"I've had a few loan moves – Bournemouth, Oldham, Norwich, Reading and [Nottingham] Forest – but that's part and parcel of it when you are a young player coming through. You have to be willing to put the work in and not being afraid, to get out of the comfort zone and take your opportunities. It's better than reserve team football, but then there comes a time when you have to say: 'Right, I am going to spend some time back at the club and see what happens.' I'm looking forward to next season."
Bertrand, who started the Champions League final in 2012, was signed from Gillingham for an initial £125,000 as a 15-year-old and is one of the few graduates of Chelsea's impressive academy facility to progress into the senior setup to feature with any regularity since John Terry made the step up more than a decade ago.
Players such as Nathaniel Chalobah and Josh McEachran spent last season on loan in the Championship, two of more than 30 players loaned out by the London club last term, with the procession of youngsters who will spend time at other clubs on temporary deals having already begun again before the new campaign.
Those moves are often considered the final stage of a player's progress after the fine-tuning of years in the development squads, though Chelsea have included a number of promising juniors – Islam Feruz, McEachran and Jamal Blackman from the academy, as well as the trialist Bertrand Traoré – on their pre-season tour of east Asia to be assessed and learn from the seniors.
"There's no better place to learn, really [than in the youth system]," Bertrand said. "Some players may see their opportunities as better elsewhere, and have different criteria in their careers. But when I talk to them, when we're away, we speak about the options they have. I just reassure them to stay patient and keep working.
"Patience is the key. When Ashley signed his new contract last season I was still just concentrating on myself. [If he'd left] there would have been another left-back anyway, so it won't be: 'As soon as Ash goes, there we are, it's mine.' The work will still be there to do. That's the way it is at the top level. You have to be able to compete. That's just the way it is, and this is still the place I want to be. I'm used to that."