PLAYER ANALYSIS: Aaron Ramsey and Running Down Contracts

One new development in football is players leaving their clubs for nothing. It’s always concerning why players didn’t do this more. From a player’s position, it’s nearly perfect. It means they can join whoever they think will benefit their career. Whether it’s Leon Goretzka joining Bayern Munich to ensure he wins a trophy, or Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining Manchester United to help build on his already impressive CV. You’ll see players doing this more often because of one simple event, that being Neymar’s record breaking transfer to PSG. This one transfer made many prices of players jump up, with Monaco going from asking £100m for Kylian Mbappe to £170m. The world found out that these clubs aren’t afraid to pay those monster fees anymore. What many clubs have done as a response to this is to ask for huge fees for players, making it very difficult for them to move. It’s meant a lot of player’s only response to this is to either let their contracts run out, or for clubs to be more reasonable when there is less than a year left on their contracts (Christian Pulisic moving to Chelsea is a good example of this). Players have more of a say on their contracts than ever before, and while it can have its downsides, it puts a lot of pressure on clubs to please their players.

One club that has made consistently poor decisions regarding players running down their contracts is Arsenal. The Gunners are famously run by owners with a serious lack of ambition, and their recent issues regarding contracts highlights this. While selling the Ox to Liverpool seemed to be good busines at the time, he was still allowed to run his contract down to its final year. Their two biggest disasters regarding contracts has to be Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Man City were offering £50m for Sanchez near the end of the summer 2017 window, and for some reason they didn’t want to sell, instead deciding to let him leave for nothing only a few months later. Ozil is different but sill just as bad. They are now paying him one of the highest wages in the league. This would be fine if he was playing but he isn’t. The World Cup winner is out of favour at the moment, and with his massive wage, it makes moving him on a very difficult proposition. The most recent player to do this is Aaron Ramsey, but this situation isn’t nearly as bad as want to make out, so let’s look at why.

Ramsey is a player, while useful, isn’t worth paying the £400,000 a week that Juventus are now paying him. He actually was a fantastic midfielder back in the 2013/14 season. It was by far his best season in club football and arguably his last season as a box to box midfielder. He was putting in 3.3 tackles a game, taking 2.2 shots and creating 1.4 chances. What’s changed so much for Ramsey since that brilliant season was his decision to seemingly stop defending. Those high tackle numbers have consistently dropped, with the Welshman now putting in 1.2 tackles per 90. Ramsey cannot play as a defensive midfielder or as a number 8. Many have just been assuming that Ramsey is this hardworking box to box midfielder, but he isn’t. He’s been at his best this season when appearing off the bench, where his attacking play flourishes against tired defences. Ramsey plays more as a goalscoring number 10, without the goals. He is very good at finding positions to shoot from in the box, similar to Dele Alli at his best. It’s possible that his countless injuries have really limited his ability to be able to do his defensive work, but it doesn’t change how he is a much less appealing signing than he was 5 years ago. Many of the English media have made Ramsey leaving seem to be the end of Arsenal, but in reality it is the right thing to do. Ramsey never truly had a place in this squad, and it’s important for Arsenal to move past players like him. I might have to talk about the absolute mess that is Juventus’s squad at some point, but right now I don’t understand why they need him. While they aren’t paying a transfer fee for the former Southampton player, he will eat that wage up even more than other more productive players in the squad are doing. Arsenal have dodged a bullet here. It’s about time they started to show a bit of a spine as a club, and not pander to players who are undeserving of it. Clubs now to be very ruthless if they wish to succeed, and it’s time for the gunners to make that step.