Aaron Ramsey will leave Arsenal this summer after 11 years with the club.
The Welshman had a contract offer withdrawn by the Gunners earlier in the season but head coach Unai Emery will keep the Welshman until his contract expires at the end of the campaign.
As revealed by Goal on Friday, Italian giants Juventus are close to signing the 28-year-old, who has made 352 appearances and scored 60 goals for the north London side since joining from Cardiff City in 2008.
Ramsey’s time at Emirates Stadium has been fraught with highs and lows, but his ability to deliver in big games means he will always have a place in Arsenal history.
Two FA Cup-winning goals, against Hull and Chelsea respectively, helped end a barren spell for the Gunners and it is those happy memories which many supporters are holding onto as his contract runs down over the next few months.
But why are Arsenal prepared to lose Ramsey for free this summer instead of receiving a transfer fee for him this month? The answer lies in the club’s surprising dearth of options in the final third.
While they do boast the likes of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and summer signing Lucas Torreira in midfield, there is no single player like Ramsey in the squad.
His box-to-box qualities, and ability to create chances and stretch play, make him a unique proposition for opposition defences – and it’s been no surprise to see him repeatedly making a big impact coming off the bench in recent games.
Ramsey has three assists in 524 minutes this season, behind only Hector Bellerin (four) and level with Mesut Ozil. He's also created 12 scoring opportunities so far, the second highest in the team, after Ozil.
It’s evident that his contributions are worthy of a new contract extension, but Arsenal’s decision to withdraw their offer for a mixture of football and financial reasons is a sign of the change of priorities under the new hierarchy led Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham.
Both have previously explained that Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke will support a self-sustaining business model, while it is unknown how far the club’s transfer budget can be stretched in January and beyond anyway.
The need for a new defender is clear and new additions will almost certainly be looked at by Emery, a coach who is still getting to grips with his squad, working out his best system and shifting players out who he believes don’t fit with his footballing philosophy – such as Ramsey.
Arsenal have one of the highest wage bills in the Premier League and Goal understands that there is a clear aim to reduce it during the coming seasons, while at the same time securing a return to the Champions League next season – a requirement which is imperative if Arsenal are able to challenge on any front financially.
Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Lucas Perez all left the Emirates last summer but the signings of Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Matteo Guendouzi, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Torreira have all added to the club’s wage bill.
When contract extensions for the likes of Granit Xhaka, Alex Iwobi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Calum Chambers are factored into the equation, the need to cut costs is clear.
Arsenal are, thus, looking at bringing in a fresh, young group of hungry players rather than meeting the demands of senior players requesting £200,000-a-week, as was the case with Ramsey.
Teenage talents such as Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock are both highly rated by Emery and his coaching staff, which only further justifies the decision to withdraw a contract offer for Ramsey and put faith in players who could realistically be ready for regular first-team football within the next couple of seasons.
However, as far as Arsenal are concerned, his summer departure makes as much sense for them as it does for the player.