Has anyone had such an up and down career as Aaron Ramsey?
He is now 26 and been at Arsenal and next season will be his tenth at Arsenal. His career has certainly been one of peaks and troughs.
Breaking through on the scene back in 2008 having signed for Arsenal a goal against Fenerbache saw him become the fifth youngest goal scorer in Champions League history. In that game, his overall performance was exceptional. A ball with the outside of his foot especially sticks in the mind.
The next season saw him continue to grow, becoming a first team regular at just 19, leading many to declare him as a future Arsenal captain. That season was cruelly cut short in February 2010 when Ryan Shawcross through himself recklessly into a challenge, breaking Ramsey’s leg into 3.
A slow period of rehabilitation in 2010/11 saw him loaned out to Nottingham Forest and Cardiff. Whilst he was out, Arsenal saw one of their own break through in Jack Wilshire. The teenage Englishman putting in performances that defied his age.
Upon Ramsey’s return in 2011/12, the injury had clearly affected him as he had a fairly poor season. It was made to seem even worse after Wilshere’s excellent season previously. With Wilshere now out, the spotlight was back on Ramsey. And he shrinked.
2011 did have a high for Ramsey. Despite his poor season for Arsenal, he was names Wales captain. He was just 20 years 90 days. He finished the year staring for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics.
The next year saw his form continue to stagnate. With Wilshere returning, Ramsey looked well behind his English counterpart. Poor form led him to lose the Wales captaincy as new manager – Chris Coleman – went for the experience “Welshman” Ashley Williams.
The 2nd half of 2012/13 saw him put in solid performances defensively. His work rate was becoming a key asset, but he continually let himself down when it came to passing, and he simply did not score enough.
Then he had a high. The first half of 2013/14 saw him in exceptional form with 8 goals in the 1st 9 games. He continued this good form until December, when a familiar enemy to Ramsey reared its ugly head once more. Injury. This would rule him out until April.
Ramsey played just 7 games in the 2nd half of the season, but he finished it on one of the most ridiculous highs, scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final.
Since the high, Ramsey has had 3 tough years.
Often in and out of the team with injury, his form average, his decision making poor. It has lead to many fans getting on his back, often far too quickly.
A poor season in 2016 saw him go to the Euro’s in France and show that he was one of the best midfielders in Europe. But then once more, he got injured, ruling him out for 3 months.
His return from injury, he looked slow, off the pace, shot. Unable to score, unable to pass, unable to tackle. Was Aaron Ramsey’s time at Arsenal coming to an end?
The back end of 2016/17 saw him regain some form. In the new 3-4-3 formation, he was able to get forward more, get in the opponents box where he excels with his late runs. He once more looked a threat. And in the last game of 2016/17, another year interrupted with injury, he scored another FA Cup Final winner.
Last night for Wales against Serbia Ramsey showed what a good player he can be when he plays unrestricted, relaxed. Not trying too much, keeping it simple, running the game. He was easily the best player on the field – now before you say it was only Serbia, look at their line up: Matic, Ivanovic, Tadic, Kolarov, Mitrovic & Nastasic.
The thing for Ramsey now is he turned 27 in December. He is at the peak of his powers. This season is perhaps the most important of his career. He could still become Arsenal captain. Be a key player in the middle of the park in Islington for the next 5 years.
But he needs less troughs and more peaks. He needs to stay fit. He needs some consistency.
“I have a contract with Arsenal, I even signed an extension last November until 2020,” Koscielny said.
“I feel very good over there.
“I have always said that I was a Marseille fan when I was younger. When a mythical club like Marseille contact you, it is good. But will I sign for them? I have no idea at all.”
That was Koscielny’s response to a question on an appearance on Telefoot when he was asked whether he would consider a move to the newly-monied Marseille.
Now it is clear to me that he is made it clear that he is committed to Arsenal. But there will be some journalists out there who, chasing the hits and advertising revenue, will focus on the 2nd half of his quotes. That he is a Marseille fan and he thinks it is good that he has been linked with them.
My theory is simple. With a contract through to 2020, Koscielny will set out this deal with Arsenal. Come 2020, and after the Euro’s, he will be 34 and join his boyhood club on a free transfer.
At that point he would have spent 10 or so years at Arsenal, been a loyal servant to the club, but be no longer guaranteed a place in the first XI. He will return to France to see out his career at his boyhood club in an easier league. And good luck to him.
In the short term, Koscielny is going no where.
Rumours are circulating that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will sign a new contract. Hopefully leading the way for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to also stay at the club long term.
What is becoming key for Oxlade-Chamberlain is his versatility. Currently pencilled in at right wing back, the fact that he can play left wing back, and on the wings highlights how important he is for Arsenal’s squad depth.
There is also a possibility that if Sanchez or Ozil does go, he might end up playing further up the field, behind a striker.
Like Ramsey, he has had a turbulent career at Arsenal. And like Ramsey, a lot of that is to do with injury.
If he stays fit, stays consistent, he might finally fulfil his potential.
Have a good week all!