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.
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.
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.
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.
Russian Gooner. No, it’s not always cold in my home country 🙂
A staunch Arsenal supporter since 2004. Started writing about the Gunners in 2013.
Currently in London to get a degree in journalism.