Arsenal have a history of leaving potential contract expirations late in recent years. Important players such as Robin van Persie, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil, and Jack Wilshere all entered the final year of their contracts with the club before ultimately deciding on their future. Some were eventually sold, one re-signed with Arsenal, and one was allowed to make a free transfer to another team at the end of their deal. The next player to follow suit in this trend with the Gunners is Aaron Ramsey.
Reports surfaced on Thursday that despite the fact that a deal was thought to be agreed by both the player and the team, Arsenal are said to have pulled out of the arrangement. The supposed U-turn by the club would be extraordinary news. Additional reports have suggested that new boss Unai Emery allocated resources in the previous summer transfer window to strengthen the side, ultimately using funds that would have gone to Ramsey’s new Arsenal deal.
This, however, does not exactly seem correct as Emery’s position with the club is ‘head coach’ and not manager. The north London outfit have a small team behind the scenes that handles much of the club’s transfer business.
Perhaps a more realistic reason behind the change of heart coincides with the fact that Ivan Gazidis is departing the club soon. Gazidis is one of the important figures behind the scenes, but is leaving for AC Milan next month. It seems possible that Gazidis essentially OK’d Ramsey’s new contract, only to have the rest of Arsenal’s leftover brass of Raul Sanllehi, Vinai Venkatesham, and potentially Josh Kroenke rethink the terms of the deal.
While Ramsey’s situation is similar to the aforementioned quartet, the Wales international is not necessarily a full repeat of van Persie, Sanchez, and Özil. Yes, the now 27-year-old midfielder is a quality player. Yes, he is one of the captains in this current Arsenal squad. However, Ramsey is not the game-changing superstar that these other players were with the club. Of the two players that were eventually sold, Van Persie and Sanchez were both coming off of 30-goal seasons prior to their departures.
Ramsey has played multiple positions since joining the Gunners in 2008. Under Emery, however, the Welshman has been mostly deployed the attacking number 10 role so far. Although he is capable in this position, it is certainly not his best position on the pitch. Ramsey’s top attributes are his motor and his quality slick runs from the middle of the pitch into the opposing team’s penalty area.
As Emery tinkers with his new team, Ramsey playing further up the pitch has pushed Özil out to the flanks. This hasn’t suited either player. The former German international is clearly best in the number 10 position and Ramsey is best a little further back as a box-to-box midfielder. A call to play Ramsey deeper could yet still happen, although that would most likely sideline either Lucas Torreira or Granit Xhaka, two important players to this squad.
Potentially losing Ramsey would be disappointing; however, the Gunners do have capable players in the positions that Ramsey is mostly deployed in. Özil, Xhaka, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can all play well in the middle of the pitch. While the Gunners had to go out and buy players to replace van Persie and Sanchez, they would not necessarily have to this time around.
Instead of replacing Ramsey with a like-for-like player, the Gunners could use funds to bring in a young, talented winger. Arsenal have a relatively deep squad, yet are possibly a bit short on pacy wide players. Leon Bailey, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Cristian Pavon have been rumored to be potential targets of the club come 2019.
Whether Ramsey leaves Arsenal or not probably won’t be fully known until January at the earliest, and there are multiple different scenarios regarding his future. The midfielder could potentially be free to agree to a contract with a foreign team on January 1st. This particular situation could, however, play out in similar fashion as Özil’s last season. It was falsely reported that the German was leaving for Manchester United, yet he eventually agreed to a new deal with the Gunners. At this point, anything is still possible regarding Ramsey.