Aaron Ramsey transfer news: Why Arsenal misses the midfielder more than Juventus need him

    In a cruel twist of fate, Aaron Ramsey’s most memorable contribution as a Juventus player so far may have been apologizing. Last November, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick crashed into the arms of the Lokomotiv Moscow goalkeeper, Ramsey broke in and stuck the ball already in goal over the line to the dismay of the Portuguese devotees – and, it must be said, the their divinity itself. “My instincts took over,” Ramsey explained later. “I apologized to Cristiano.”

    It may be insignificant, but it paints an image of Ramsey’s least impact in Italy. Ever since it made its debut in September, naked statistics have made reading threatening. Ramsey has scored only twice – including “theft” – and has not yet completed all 90 minutes. Afflicted by three separate injuries, in total, he has almost played 30 hours less football than Serie A teammate Romelu Lukaku this season. And while his arrival on a free transfer has been hailed as a coup, his pre-tax salary of £ 400,000 per week is rapidly coming to represent something closer to an economic catastrophe.

    Of course, reality is not so sad. The gluttony of Juventus recruiting has meant that Ramsey started the season as one of the seven central midfielders, an absurd talent pool that boasts two World Cups and 26 championship titles, and a promised summer elimination will reduce that fierce competition. After 11 seasons at Arsenal, he is still adapting to the freedom and constraints of a new league, manager, language and environment. They are perfectly suitable reasons for explaining any slow start. Still, in a club where something less than total dominance is defined as a failure, those factors do little to make Ramsey less expendable.

    Take Emre Can. After being signed in similar circumstances by Liverpool in the summer of 2018, he was abruptly left out of the Juventus team in the Champions League earlier this season and brought aboard Borussia Dortmund in January after just 18 months. Days after Can’s departure, Juventus’ surprise defeat against Hellas Verona was followed by a report that the club is ready to unload Ramsey in the summer. No matter how spurious you show, it encapsulates the sense of frustration.

    Is anyone to blame for all this? Perhaps, the move to one of the real football giants in Europe was simply steeper than expected. To say that Ramsey was one of Arsenal’s most consistent players isn’t necessarily a big distinction. During the highs, lows, success and dysfunction of a decade under Arsene Wenger, he was a jewel in a rocky side, capable of truly astonishing moments and firm leadership. But there were also spells in which he was guilty of drifting in a more opaque suburb, another piece in the downward spiral of the club, which never fully satisfied the immense promise of that famous 2013/14 season.

    Ironically, the closest Ramsey arrived in those bittersweet months when his future had already been decided, irresistibly dragging Napoli, the artist and the wrecking ball against Manchester United and Newcastle. The fireworks, most regularly exhibited in international service with Wales, in full display.

    It was the qualities that convinced Fabio Paratici, Juventus sporting director, that Ramsey’s true vocation was that of No. 10. Even Maurizio Sarri gave in to sacrilege, giving up his favorite 4-3-3 to support him in that role. But, so far, those captivating moments have not been translated abroad. Likewise, the possibility of Ramsey breaking into Sarri’s trio of central midfielders does not even seem to register in the manager’s stubborn sphere of imagination.

    Aaron Ramsey joined Juventus with a free transfer after 11 years at Arsenal (Getty)

    But to pigeonhole Ramsey there is to be completely misunderstood as a player. He is not one of the magnetic individualists of football, but has never been refined in a singular role. At best, it is a cross between attack and defense, everywhere at the same time, a tackler at the last ditch, midfield pivot and goal threat. In a rigorously set and unfamiliar system like that of Sarri, those are characteristics that always require freedom and patience to replicate.

    Is she really better? A title rush and a Champions League spot in the past 16 indicate an obvious case. But Arsenal misses Ramsey much more than Juventus needs him. His ghost still occupies a void in an Arsenal team looking for a box-to-box midfielder – with Mikel Arteta known to prioritize signing a player in that mold this summer. It could have been a talisman – and probably the captain – of restarting the club. It may have been a responsibility that Ramsey has enjoyed beyond any fight for status in Turin, and Arsenal’s decision to turn his back on a player who remains one of the best in Europe is a mistake he just looks at. age. This is truly the only reason to be sorry.


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