Last night Sheffield United beat Carlisle in the first round of the League Cup and Aaron Ramsdale did not feature. Cue the noises online about an impending transfers and a possible deal to Arsenal, which was shortly followed by a general outpouring of disdain from my social media timelines. Honestly, I don’t think there has been a potential transfer that has been met with such negative vibes, in all my year’s supporting The Arsenal. I wonder if the Silvestre deal from Man United all those years ago would have been greeted with such apoplexy, if social media was back then what it is today?
I’ve heard plenty of people say “they must have spotted something” in reference to the Arsenal coaching staff and people identifying talent at the club. I’ve seen comments about how he has impressed in the England training camp during the Euros. And the very fact that Sheffield United want £30million for him suggests that they rate him so highly. But the whole “they’ve seen something” mantra falls down flat on its face when you look at transfers in general. For example, what did anyone see in the Cedric deal, because that has turned out to be pretty pointless. In the England camp it’s easy to impress in training. I remember Ray Parlour telling a story of a player – I can’t remember the name now but I think it was Spanish or Italian – who never really made the grade at the club during his time. However Ray speaks about how this guy used to light it up in training all of the time. Tricks, flicks, the works. But when he got a few minutes on the pitch in proper game time for the first team, he froze. So the idea that you can impress in training – ever since I heard that story from Ray – has failed to really ignite too much excitement in me I’m afraid.
I think what has also got Arsenal fans confused is that the data around the player doesn’t really tell us very much either. We have no evidence of him being good with the ball at his feet, which is what Mikel wants from his team, do we? Please drop a note in the comments if you do because I haven’t seen it. There are people who say that he was instructed to go long under Sheffield United last season and if that is the tactics then perhaps it’s not so much on him. It’s a bit like the stick that’s being used to beat him with on the relegations he’s suffered; there are 11 men on the pitch for all games and a team doesn’t get relegated because of it’s keeper. So I don’t take too much stock in that. But what I do take stock in is the eye test and what the fans of the club say. My eye test has told me he’s an average ‘keeper at best. Even with the English premium it should only add a couple of mil to his price tag, but that shouldn’t be anywhere near £30million. Not no way, not no how.
The second point is what the fans say and Arseblog did a great pod on Ramsdale with a Sheffield United fan. Listen to it here. The guy was fairly complimentary about Ramsdale and suggested that if they were still in the Premier League he’d be wanting more than £50million+ I think he said, but that’s a bit mental really and a fan with extremely rose-tinted specs on. Especially as in the same episode he talks about how the guy should have been brought out of the team because of his poor form at the start of the season. So what I’ve learned over the last few weeks is that my eye test tells me he’s average, the numbers tell me that we don’t know if he’s going to be bad with the ball at his feet, then an actual fan of the club he’s playing for saying he had a dodgy one half of the season followed by a good second half of a season. Doesn’t exactly sound like a transfer to get excited about, does it?
Let’s not forget that at Arsenal for many games compared to Sheffield United will play with possession, with teams looking to hit on the counter and often with our ‘keeper doing very little, other than in sporadic patches of the game in which he might be called upon. It sounds to me like this is a guy who is a confidence ‘keeper and when it s down it’s not a good look on him. Almunia was like that. When he became our number one he looked alright. Did what he was supposed to do but nothing more. But as soon as he dropped a clanger in his own net, he looked haunted, devoid of confidence and it spiralled until we had to ship him out. If we sign Aaron Ramsdale for £30million you can see just the same happening if he drops one in, or slips that leads to a goal, etc.
We need a ‘keeper who exudes his own confidence, even when the chips are down, but I’m not getting the ‘feels’ that this is the case with Ramsdale. And that is what worries me.
This feels like it’s only going to end one way if it happens, which is with another guy we bought for big money who a year or two down the line, goes for half what we paid for him.
Sorry, I know i’ve written a couple of times about Ramsdale and I’ve probably repeated my thoughts a few times, but because of all of the noises and because he didn’t feature last night, it’s pushed it to the front of my mind. Back tomorrow with some more thoughts. Catch you then.