Aaron Ramsey was signed for Arsenal by Arsene Wenger as part of a youthful British spree back in 2008. Sat alongside Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he represented a fresh attacking heartbeat. Arguably, he has been the most consistent and successful of the quintet in the ensuing decade. Sixty goals and sixty assists in 340 games on the way to three FA Cups have secured him a place as a key part of Arsenal’s modern history.
Recently, however, he has been at the centre of speculation linking him with a move away from the Emirates. The Welshman has refused to sign a new contract after he demanded parity with the club’s top earners. A host of Europe’s top clubs have been linked, with Manchester United among the surprise candidates for his signature. Here we analyse how big a loss he would be.
His passing is his strongest asset, and nobody in the current Arsenal squad can rival his 2.2 key passes per 90 minutes. Danny Welbeck and Ainsley Maitland-Niles both have higher ratings in this category, but have played less than 150 minutes combined. Discounting them, Mesut Ozil is next with 1.6 key passes per 90. Interestingly, of those 2.2 key passes, only 0.2 are long range key passes. Ozil has a more even balance of roughly double the number of short key passess to long ones. Ramsey’s ratio, however, is five times more weighted towards shorter key passes.
This indicates both his more advanced average position on the pitch, but also the type of risk he takes. In more congested areas nearer the opposition box, Ramsey has been a key element of breaking through defences in tight areas. Losing his calmness in such situations will be a huge loss. Ozil, for example, is a harder conundrum for Unai Emery to solve. His record of assisting goals is often held up as his key value, but he hasn’t managed a single assist this season. Ramsey, on the other hand, has the highest assists per 90 minutes of anyone bar Welbeck. As previously mentioned, the Englishman’s statistics are inflated by his minimal playing time.
As demonstrated against Fulham last weekend, Ramsey is extremely comfortable carrying the ball forwards. He boasts arguably the most impressively efficient dribbling stats in the squad. According to WhoScored, of his 1.8 total dribbles attempted per 90 minutes, 1.3 have been successful. Only Alex Iwobi and Maitland-Niles have registered more successful dribbles. The latter has played less than half the number of minutes, and has also registered 3.1 successful dribbles too.
This can of course be explained largely down to his different position as a wide player. Ramsey’s efficiency on the ball is hugely impressive nonetheless. Only Granit Xhaka technically has a better ratio of successful dribbles per 90 minutes, but his total number is less than a quarter of Ramsey’s.
Losing Aaron Ramsey would leave a gaping hole in Arsenal’s midfield. The problem of fitting Ozil and Mkhitaryan into the same side overshadows the importance of Ramsey going forward. Nine players register more unsuccessful touches than the Welshman’s 1.3 per 90 minutes. His demands to receive parity in pay with his peers seems justified, given how his performances have been so polished. Serie A would perhaps be a fitting stage for his technical talents if the stand-off isn’t resolved. Arsenal could pull off a masterstroke, however, if they can persuade him to stay.