Ramsey On The Run?
With his contract expiring in the summer and a new deal at the Emirates looking like a myth, rumours have begun to spiral in recent weeks as to the next destination for Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey.
Reports suggest that German giants, Bayern Munich, are ‘confident’ they can complete a deal to sign the 27-year-old on a free in the summer.
Ramsey has been instrumental in bringing an added goalscoring threat from midfield in recent seasons, and the club’s hesitance to extend the star’s tenure has left many bewildered.
Of course, anything can happen in the world of football. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at how one of Caerphilly’s greatest exports squares up against Bayern Munich’s midfield.
His Role For The Gunners This Season
In the dawn of the Unai Emery era at the Emirates, the new gaffer has seemed to have, unsurprisingly, shaken up the side’s tactics.
Towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign, the Gunners had followed in their Premier League peers’ footsteps with the implementation of a back three.
Now, the side operates primarily in a 4-2-3-1, and considering they’re on a 14-game unbeaten streak, it’s clearly worked.
Ramsey has played, for the most part, as a number ten in this formation. Meanwhile, he’s joined in attack by Alexandre Lacazette up front, Aubameyang on the left and either of Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Mesut Ozil on the right.
Last season, the Welshman worked alongside Granit Xhaka in a midfield pairing. Wenger’s choice to play only two central midfielders meant that Ramsey was shackled by greater defensive responsibilities.
Now, under the ‘new’ system, he can focus on what he does best: Provide that added goalscoring threat.
His Competition at Bayern Munich
Despite a slew of talent all over the pitch, 11 games into the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich sit in fifth, seven points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Much like Arsenal, Bayern use a midfield trio as a spine to bring stability and spur their attacking efforts. However, the reigning German champions have been keen to consistently vary their options.
This may be partly due to the injury of Corentin Tolisso early in the season. However, if there’s one thing you cannot fault Nico Kovac for, it’s giving every player a fair crack at the whip.
Spanish enforcer, Javi Martinez, has been Bayern’s rock, sitting in front of the back four. Meanwhile, the likes of Leon Goretzka, Thiago Alcantara, James Rodriguez, and more have featured alongside him in midfield.
While Ramsey has featured in three more games than the other two, the minutes in which he actually played compared to the others warrant a fair comparison.
In terms of creative output, it might surprise some of you to see Ramsey get the better of both Thiago and Goretzka. He’s created a total of 13 chances in 12 appearances for the Gunners so far this season, while both Bayern players managed six.
Furthermore, he’s tallied more assists (four) and made the highest number of crosses (three) so far this season.
These statistics show that Ramsey’s positioning in attack is impressive for a ‘holding midfielder’. His ability to assist his team-mates from both close and long-range situations has made him a much more versatile option.
Threat In Front Of Goal
While Ramsey has proved to be more accurate in his shots at goal (eight on target, the most of all three), the remaining disciplines see the German seem most impressive.
Goretzka has scored the most goals (two) in the fewest minutes played (514). He’s also managed the most attempts on goal (12).
However, in achieving the highest number of shots, Goretzka also manages the most off target (seven). Meanwhile, Ramsey, along with the most shots on target, manages the least off target (one), leading to him being the most clinical out of the three.
After remaining relatively quiet throughout the other disciplines, Thiago swoops in and shows he is, by far, the most defensively-adept out of the three.
The Spaniard has managed the most tackles (26) out of him, Ramsey, and Goretzka so far this season, along with the most successful take-ons (19).
Meanwhile, Ramsey has managed only six successful tackles and only seven successful take-ons.
These statistics show that Thiago is a much more defensively-minded player than Ramsey. The Munich man operates more as a deep-lying magician whose ability to dictate play and create chances from a position further away from goal is a type of player we see less of in the Premier League.
These ‘regista’-type players tend to feature more in Italy and Spain. The only high-profile example in the English top flight is Chelsea’s Jorginho.
To conclude, much like many initial reactions to the news, Ramsey’s proposed move to Bayern Munich offers the side more problems than solutions.
Nico Kovac already has an abundance of midfield talent at his disposal. It’s hard to imagine the arrival of Ramsey would throw a spanner in the works, rather add yet another player frustrated by a lack of game time.
For his career, it would be a fantastic move for Ramsey, however. It’ll certainly be a massive step up.
We’ve seen this season with Xherdan Shaqiri at Liverpool how playing in a team of a much higher calibre can benefit a player’s individual performance.
It’ll be a massive payday for the Welshman, and there’s no doubting he’ll be playing among Europe’s best.