I like Aaron Ramsey. I like his energy, the spaces he occupies, the goals he has scored and I think a fully fit Ramsey is a massive asset to the team.
So whilst my title is provocative in a sense, it is 100% how I feel and is not indicative of me being a ‘Ramsey hater’ or somebody that does appreciate the contribution he has given to the club.
He has scored in two cup finals and I was in direct line of sight when he rifled in the winner against Hull. It was a memory I hope to treasure until my dying day and if you calculate ‘legend’ status based on the trophies and performances that are won by players and the impact they make on those trophies then yes, I would call Ramsey a ‘legend’ at the club. He’s been with us for 11 years. He’s been a good player – even if I think he could have been better – and when he goes and has retired from football in 10 years time or so, I’m sure I’ll be saying the same.
That being said, I think there are plenty of questions that need to be asked, it being perfectly reasonable to also question the announcement from David Ornstein (also followed up by Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph) about how this whole situation has come up.
Ramsey’s contract has been withdrawn from the club. When I first heard that news my initial question was “why?”. The noises from the likes of Ornstein was that Ramsey was ‘ready to sign’. Well I’m sorry folks but if he was so ready to sign, why didn’t he? I don’t believe for a second that in the space of a day or two a new offer was made, Ramsey’s ‘team’ saw it, liked it, were going to sign it, then the club whipped away the contract before Ramsey could grab a Bic biro.
There’s more to this than is being reported and if I had to guess it would be that the offer that has been withdrawn was the one that was on the table from the summer. It was one that Ramsey and his ‘team’ weren’t willing to sign now and wanted to let this play out until the club blinked like they did with Özil last January.
Only this time the club didn’t blink. In fact, the club have been proactive and rather than just leave the contract dangling for Ramsey to sign as and when he wanted, they’ve said “fine, if you won’t sign, we’ll withdraw and start to plan life without you” and that, boys and girls, is something that should be commended by the club.
The club has had to ‘break glass in case of emergency’ on a Plan B and that is what they are now doing. Stage one is to withdraw Ramsey’s contract. Let’s have no confusion about what’s happening and start to look at other options. For me that is great because we now have clarity, the club has clarity, Unai Emery can tell Sven and Raoul to go out there and find a certain type of player with certain attributes to replace Ramsey.
And that can start happening from today. Whether or not we’re ready to do business in January or the summer is still something we’re yet to see, but the best option would be to sell Ramsey in January, collect a bit of cash, then use that money to reinvest in the team.
As for Ramsey himself, well, this is where I’ll be intrigued as to what he does and where he goes because it will tell you a lot about the player. In 2015 he said he wanted to play abroad one day. He’s mentioned it a couple of times in his career. Fine. Crack on son. However, if we find a United, Chelski, Liverpool or Man City are his chosen destination then, well, we know what his real ambitions were and we know what his real motivations are.
This feels like a prime time for Ramsey to play abroad and at his age it’s a deal that would make sense. And do you know what? If he goes abroad then I’ll cheer him on. But if he ends up at another English team then I’m afraid it will dent my opinion of him, certainly in the short term.
As for The Arsenal of now, we need to start phasing him out, literally from today. We still need him, he will still add value, but if Unai can somehow find a way to slowly include him less and less, then that would be perfect.
We don’t need to have a player playing football for us that will have his eye on a long term future away from the club. We don’t need to invest our time on a guy who might be wondering whether he’s going to be house hunting in less than a few months time. What we need is a team that is pulling together and to me the phasing our of Ramsey is an essential strategic move that the club make.
Ideally, by January, I don’t really want to see too much of Ramsey because we are prepping him for a move.
Unai Emery will be thrust in front of the cameras and microphones today and I’m sure it’s the last thing he will want to talk about today. He’ll bat away the questions and say things like “I like the player, I want him to stay, but it is up to the club” or something along those lines and to be honest that’s probably the best we can hope for. Whether or not Ramsey is selected to start tomorrow, however, is another question entirely. I think I’ll save that debate for tomorrow.
But for today I think I’ll finish on saying that it’s sad we have yet another contract situation like this. Hopefully the new regime nip this trend – which has been going on for nearly ten years now – in the bud and if anybody wants another example of why the disappearance of Gazidis is a good thing, just consider that it is his time that has coincided with these constant contractual sagas.
Catch you all tomorrow with a match preview.