“The contract is off the table” – it could not have been any clearer from either side. The deal was off. Aaron Ramsey was free to speak to other people from January.
His agent then put another nail in the coffin with some tweets to an Arsenal fan which confirmed he was off – but didn’t want to leave.
Like everything in football; it was down to money.
He wanted a certain salary, and after about a year of negotiating both sides had seemingly come to an agreement. The contract was on the table. But then Ramsey dithered. He did not sign.
Why he and his people did not sign, we might never know. But it was this final act that led Arsenal to take to contract off the table.
There has been plenty of talk that having seen him play for 10 weeks, manager Unai Emery felt that Ramsey did not fit into his system. Certainly not with Mesut Özil in the side.
Emery wants to play 4231. Ramsey struggles in a midfield 2, often leaving his playing partner isolated and exposed. Pushing Ozil outside reduced the Germans effectiveness – and he is very effective with a goal or assist every 157 minutes in the Premier League.
So whilst Ramsey dithered, Emery made the decision that the Welshman was no longer the guaranteed starter he became under Wenger. And making a player the clubs second highest paid player – reportedly £250k a week – was an inappropriate use of club funds. That the salary could be reinvested elsewhere, on a player who is going to be starting week in week out.
So we all expected Ramsey to leave. His agent announced he was going, burning bridges in a hugely unprofessional manner. Against Fulham – even with Ozil out – he found himself on the bench. But then he showed his quality, as he was integral in starting and finishing the wonder goal.
Ramsey leaving Arsenal is not yet a done thing. He is not yet out of the door. He is still wearing the red and white. So let’s work through the scenarios.
Ramsey decides to leave.
In January he can negotiate with foreign clubs; with the view of a free transfer in the summer. Or someone might stomp up £20m to secure him for the second half of the season – remembering he will not be Champions League tied.
But where could he end up?
Money is clearly a key motivator. As is playing.
On the first factor, money, who could actually afford to pay him the £250k that Arsenal were seemingly willing too? And if we think that figure is exaggerated, who would pay him £200k?
Man City could afford him with ease. But realistically would they want or need him?
With Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Bernard Silva and Riyad Mahrez, they have plenty of number 10s in their squad. Investing in Ramsey wouldn’t make sense. And he would struggle to get the game time he desires, possible not even make the bench.
Liverpool have been heavily linked in recent days. But would they really be willing to pay him what he wants?
Mo Salah is reportedly their highest paid player on £200k a week. Then Firminho on £180k. Sadio Mane on just £90k. Would they make Ramsey their highest paid player? That will soon get other players knocking at the chairman’s door for more money.
And where would he actually fit in? They play a hard working midfield that frees up Salah, Mane and Firminho to attack at will. Playing Ramsey would unbalance them, like it does Arsenal.
Manchester United can afford him. And he would be a realistic target if Paul Pogba leaves. But if Pogba remains; United are in the same position as Arsenal.
Either having to play Pogba or Ramsey deep in a two or wide to accommodate the other one. Ultimately they will have a similar decision as Arsenal. Do you pay Ramsey what he wants even though he won’t start week in, week out?
Chelsea is an interesting one. They need home grown players and if Eden Hazard leaves, they might see renewing the Ramsey / Olivier Giroud as a way forward. They could be an outside bet.
As for moving abroad, I have seen AC Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich mentioned. But next summer he will be the father of 8-month old twins. Is he really going to uproot his family, away from the support network?
And can too many foreign teams afford the €11m a year he is commanding?
At Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest paid player on €30m. Next up is Douglas Costa on just €8m. No one else is on more than €100k a year. Or £90k in British sterling. Will they break the bank for Ramsey? Making him their 2nd best paid player? On twice the much of the 3rd most paid? I doubt it.
AC Milan are no different. Only Gonzalo Higuain is on above €100k (€145k reportedly). Are they going to nearly double what he is on to get Ramsey? The Welshman will be on 3 times the salary of the next highest paid player if the match Arsenal’s reported £250k (€280) offer.
Bayern Munich certainly have a capacity to go north woods of €200k. Robert Lewandowski is on €225k. But like the other sides, would they be willing to make Ramsey the highest paid player?
Last summer they gave Leon Goretzka €190k a week. That made the German youngster their second highest paid player. Ramsey is looking at €100k more than this…
So suddenly lots of doors are shutting around Ramsey. The interest is not there at what he is demanding. It is a reality check.
Does he go to United and end up in the same situation at Arsenal, just on a higher wage? Does he wait for Chelsea to sell Hazard and hope they bring him in to replace him?
Or does he drop his salary demands to a more realistic £150k a week to generate interest from Liverpool – and certainly make Manchester United interested.
Think of that figure for a minute. £150k a week. £100k less than what was reportedly on the table at Arsenal. £5.2m a year less. Suddenly could Arsenal be interested again?
At £150k a week, Ramsey would fit in with the squads current wage structure. It would only actually be an increase of £40k on his current deal. An extra £2m a year.
If Ramsey lowered his wage demands to other clubs to £150k a week, it’d certainly get another contract from Arsenal on the table.
So Ramsey would not have to move, could bring up his family in the surroundings they have been used to for a decade, and he would still get plenty of game time.
Whilst he wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter, Ozil has a history of illness and back spasms. He misses at least 30% of the season – last year it was closer to 50%. Ramsey would still end up playing pretty much every game – starting 15 – 20 and coming off the bench for the majority of the rest.
Ramsey also has his injury problems.
Last season he started just 21 Premier League games. The year before it was 13. Over the last 5 years he has averaged just 20 league starts a season.
Even playing back up to Ozil he wouldn’t be too far off that figure were he to remain.
So things around Ramsey will go quiet for a bit. His agent will be speaking in dark cafes across England and Europe seeing what interest there is for his client. And at what salary. He will probably come back with bad news for Ramsey.
Manchester United is a maybe, the others will all say “no” at his current salary demands.
With no new contract signed in March, Arsenal will reopen talks. Maybe stick a £150k contract on the table. Point at the fact that they know this is the level at what Liverpool are interested at. Why leave when the same money is on the table from Arsenal? Perhaps offer him a 5 year deal instead of 4. A little bit extra in an appearance fee.
One thing is for certain, the door is not shut, Aaron Ramsey’s future is not a guarantee to be away from Arsenal.