‘A few weeks before we sort of agreed and I was ready to sign’, Aaron Ramsey told the always enjoyable Amy Lawrence, yet he didn’t put pen to paper.
By the sound of it, everyone was happy with the outcome of the negotiations and Aaron Ramsey looked set to extend his stay in North London beyond 2019, becoming one of the longest-serving players to ever wear the cannon.
In a very unexpected turn of events, the Club withdrew the offer and the midfielder is now certain he’ll leave the Arsenal, either in January of next summer – for free.
Again, by the sound of it we could believe that the Club hierarchy suddenly changed their minds but there are some words that give the Welshman away, somehow: the “sort of agreed”, means to me that the deal wasn’t entirely satisfactory for at least one side – which usually is the intended recipient of the offer, not the addresser.
Given the lengthy negotiations, that very last adjournment could have been the final straw for the Club officials.
The way the whole Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil situation was handled was disgraceful and resulted in the Club being perceived as weak and submissive towards his most influential players.
The saga ended with Alexis swapped with Henrikh Mhkitaryan and Mesut Özil handed a huge new contract – which he didn’t really deserve, to some extent.
The feeling from the outside was that the German maestro somehow held the Club in ransom, which set a very dangerous precedent for any other player approaching his final year of contract.
Aaron Ramsey’s agency smelled a great opportunity there and worked on getting an improved contract for their protégé, counting on the non-idyllic situation within the Club hierarchy to force their hands on a rumoured £250K-a-week new deal; after what happened to Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil, the Club would do anything to keep hold of their most loyal servant and scorer of two FA Cup winning goals, wouldn’t they?
After all, Mesut Özil was given a huge raise after a long string of mediocre performances, why wouldn’t Aaron Ramsey be rewarded for his commitment and historical contribution to the Arsenal fortunes?
Well, apparently the wind has changed; players are no longer in charge at the Club.
I believe that the newly-appointed Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham also smelled a good opportunity to send out a powerful message and restore some of the Club’s credibility.
Aaron Ramsey surely is a good midfielder and one of the most influential players in the dressing room but his inclusion in Unai Emery’s starting XI is far from being automatic and his form hasn’t shown anything brilliant – back-heel goals at Craven Cottage apart.
The emergence of Mattéo Guendouzi and the immediate impact made by Lucas Torreira suddenly put the Club back in a strong position as Aaron Ramsey isn’t as essential to the team as he’s been in the past (or he believed he was), therefore the Welshman became the ideal high-profile figure to sacrifice in order to restore the balance of powers within the Club.
Still high-regarded and in-demand, Aaron Ramsey is the most expendable high-profile player to be used by the Club to tell the world that they are ready to part ways with their illustrious players, if necessary.
Tactically, technically and numerically, the risks for Unai Emery’s plans will be minimum, while the message will be heard loud and clear, out there; it’s far from being ideal, as the sale of Aaron Ramsey would have brought some very welcomed funds, but it’s a way for the Club to say “we made some mistakes, we were in a mess but it’s no longer the case and no-one will be allowed to fool the Arsenal around.”
Pages are being turned on every level at the Club, from the field to the offices, and we’re not anywhere near the end of the process.