Breaking: Portsmouth hopes of signing ex-Hull man boosted after talented defender's surprise Manchester United release
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It means the 22-year-old is now available on a free transfer, with the Blues eager to swoop.
With Bernard being a free agent, that will inevitably generate more competition to secure the former Chelsea youth player.
Having spent the 2021-22 campaign in the Championship, where he impressed with Hull, interest above League One level is also likely.
However, it is understood Pompey remain hopeful over a permanent return to Fratton Park.
They are continuing dialogue with Bernard and his representatives, although, with other clubs also circling, the Blues may have to be patient in their pursuit.
Yet he remains a leading target during summer business, with the transfer window opening on June 14.
John Mousinho presently has Sean Raggett and Ryley Towler as his centre-half options – and is keen to add Bernard to that group following his loan stay.
After arriving in January, Bernard had to bide his time for a regular run in Mousinho’s side, eventually starting the final four matches of last season.
He capitalised on that opportunity, catching the eye with some powerful displays, largely as the right-sided centre-half.
Subsequently, it cemented Pompey’s opinion of the youngster, earmarking him as a definite summer target – albeit dependent on Manchester United’s stance.
Similarly, the Fratton faithful were also impressed with Bernard during that period and he remains a player many would love to see back on the south coast.
In total, the loanee made 10 appearances during his loan, albeit frustratingly spending a long period of matches as an unused substitute.
Nonetheless, Pompey have big ambitions for Bernard and will attempt to lure him back with the opportunity for regular first-team football and the offer of career stability.
He has featured just once for United, instead spending his career out on loan to aid development, with spells at Salford, Hull and, of course Pompey.
Turning 23 in October, with 77 career appearances to his name, this will be an important decision for Bernard as he seeks to play regularly.
Pompey are also hopeful the player will have liked what he has seen at Fratton Park during his previous four-month stay to convince him to return.
Certainly he made an impact both on and off the pitch, while assistant head coach Jon Harley knows him from his time in Chelsea’s Academy.
Pompey do have other centre-half targets, however, although it is understood that does not include Matthew Pennington.
The former Shrewsbury man, who is a free agent after turning down a new deal, has been repeatedly linked with a Blues switch.
Yet it’s not a direction Pompey are looking in as they seek to strengthen that part of their squad.