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A tribute to Aaron Ramsey – Je ne regrette rien

NLD-Ramsey

A tribute to Aaron Ramsey

By now, you have to live under a rock not to know Aaron Ramsey has played his last game for Arsenal. The fact it’s Ramsey’s last season has sparked a lot of debate over his persona: have the Club done enough to keep him, how important he is for the team, whether the Welshman can be considered an Arsenal legend, etc.

Something similar took place when Theo Walcott left, and, to a lesser extent, Olivier Giroud. Giroud became a fan favourite by the end of his spell at N5, though few thought he should be awarded the legendary status. Walcott staked a more serious claim, given his longevity, if not his prolificacy.

However Ramsey, a midfielder, is not expected to score goals at the rate of the two players above, while the sheer number of his league appearances (9th overall – above Henry and Adams, for context) show a measure of reliability. Two FA Cup winners make him (almost) a folk hero.

I guess it all comes down to perception then. Some will call the Welshman an Arsenal legend (a word bandied about too often these days, which devalue it, in my opinion), some will say he overstayed his welcome and then there will be people in-between. I can only give you my take and the reasons for it – up to you if you agree with it or not.

The breakout season (13-14) was spectacular

Ramsey played in a two with Mikel Arteta that season, behind Mesut Ozil and, less frequently, Santi Cazorla. Without abandoning his defensive duties, the Welshman contributed to 19 league goals (10 goals, 9 assists) in 23 appearances. Some of the strikes were breathtaking. The FA Cup winner against Hull was a jewel in his crown.

However even that season was marred with a serious injury. If I remember correctly, Ramsey missed around three months of action at the start of 2014, which saw Arsenal’s title bid fall apart. Injuries have plagued the Welshman’s stay in North London, but there is a cruel irony that his less stellar seasons, both before and after 13-14, saw Aaron clock at least 300 minutes more in the league.

Ramsey-1

2014 Wembley Winner

And then there were less spectacular seasons

Ramsey’s 12-13 season was not as prolific, but at least he nailed down a spot in the team and developed a great understanding with Mikel Arteta. Aaron was integral for shielding our defense – his renowned work rate was on show all season long.

The Welshman 14-15 season was spent in attempts to recreate his goal scoring form. It seemed to have gone to his head, with Ramsey becoming more selfish, less disciplined in defense and still less prolific. Even Arsene Wenger expressed his displeasure with Ramsey’s attitude, though in a reserved manner – you would expect nothing less from the Frenchman, who always defended his players in public.

The contract saga

It is a murky story, why Ramsey is leaving on a free this season, but one thing appears to be nailed-on: an offer was made, he did not sign it for several months and then the Club withdrew it. Ramsey later appeared surprised by it, but I think it was part of his media play, a show for the cameras.

I think Arsenal are not solely at fault in this story. Of course, they should have sorted out the entire thing sooner, so that they would not have a situation where a valuable asset ends up leaving on a free, but it appears there was at least some element of stringing the Club along by the Welshman, which is not what you would call exemplary behavior.

Arsenal-s-Aaron-Ramsey-702006

A too common image

But at least Ramsey was professional on the pitch

A bit-part player until very recently under Unai Emery, Ramsey never complained about lack of game time and always gave his best when on the pitch. He scored some very important and highly spectacular goals even this season and we will miss him in the last games for sure.

Aaron has the ability to shake things up with his sheer energy levels, take the game by the scruff of neck. He reminds me of Alexis Sanchez, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere in this regard. I am not sure we have a player to fill this gap; however, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira look promising.

The verdict

I cannot bring myself to feel as sad as I did when Giroud left, for instance. I just cannot shake off the feeling that Ramsey is a bit like Theo Walcott or Mesut Ozil in terms of his media game. His PR machine is sleek, he rarely puts a foot wrong publicly, but he is not a personality as Olivier Giroud or Jack Wilshere were.

With those two, I had no doubts they loved the Club. Ramsey though… I am just not as sure. Bottom line is, I do not think the Welshman is irreplaceable. He is a 28-year-old box-to-box with a history of muscle injuries. Even the way his career at Arsenal ends is symbolic – with another injury. While I could not help but feel deeply sorry when Rosicky’s, Cazorla’s or Arteta’s Arsenal careers ended that way, I cannot muster the same amount of regret for Ramsey.

I can only wish him all the best in Serie A, hope he gets to be an important player for Allegri’s side and maybe finally wins the league or the Champions League title, all the while avoiding injuries. Good luck, Aaron.

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One Response to A tribute to Aaron Ramsey – Je ne regrette rien

  1. Victor Thompson May 4, 2019 at 11:41 am #

    Nice to hear from you again Alex, I always enjoy your presentations and this one is a level headed, balanced assessment of Aaron Ramsey and his contribution to the club. I am saddened about his exit because I believe that he had an unrequited love affair with the club that was about to bear fruit. Just look at our performances when Emery began playing him regularly. We had 10 winning games in a row and had moved to third in the league. After he got injured we sufffered 3 defeats in a row in the Premiership and we are now 5th with 2 games to go. Our future is in Chelsea`s hand`s as to whether we make the top 4 unless we win the `Loser`s` cup.

    He was not a Walcott or Sanchez because he played his heart out to the end and some of his final season performances were fabulous. For me our goal of the season was the one he initiated with a pass from near the half way line and finished off in the penalty box by letting a cross pass behind his front foot and side tapping it in with a flick of his trailing foot. `Genius`, a move Messi would have been proud of. despite his horrendous injury against Stoke in 2013, he did not hold back in his challenges and he charged into the penalty box where the feet were flying and still had enough composure to make slick one-two passes.

    Walcott cannot maintain a regular place in Everton`s team and Sanchez is unloved by his manager and the fans because they are both mercenaries who held the club to ransom. Ozil in a different way, is somewhat similar because they got what they wanted when they each negotiated a contract which in their estimation, is what their best performances merited. UnfortunatelyWalcott and Sanchez have not lived up to their hyped opinion of them selves.

    I appreciate that Ramsey waited for some time before he finally ran out of time and Arsenal pullled the plug. I am not privy to the reasons why the club pulled the contract but I was disappointed because he was actually playing to his best at the time. Moreover I have seen accounts from what seems to have been well sourced writers in which it is claimed that he was prepared to settle for £250k per week. In the modern game that is a fair rate for someone who is capable of playing to that standard regularly. I know that anytime I saw him coming on as a sub, he made an immediate difference.

    Guendouzi is a stellar signing for the money Arsenal paid, but he is not the finished article. Playing with Ramsey would have ensured that he learnt the art of box-to box midfield play. Ramsey almost carried Wales to the finals of the European Championship. Wales took my team N. Ireland out when we had played well above our weight. Throughout that tournament, he was arguably the best and most effective midfielder in the competition.

    In a way, we did not lose or waste the opportunity to sell him a season earlier, because I do not believe that he owed the club anything. He was paid a decent wage for his profession while he was with us but it was only slightly better than the rates similar players were getting at their clubs. The only loser in the decision to run his contract down was the club. I am certain that we would have been out of reach of Chelsea and within touch of Spurs, had he not missed the final games of the season. That is how valuable he was.

    I wish him well and it will be interesting to see if he suffers hamstrings playing for Juventus. I have always thought that there was a defect in the training regime which produced a conveyor belt of players for the medical room.

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