Sergio Ramos' PSG move is turning into a nightmare
Sergio Ramos’ unavailability for Friday’s Ligue 1 clash with Angers was news that Paris Saint-Germain fans were perhaps expecting but were certainly fearing.
Since signing for the Ligue 1 club on July 8, 2021 from Real Madrid under the freedom of contract rules, Ramos has failed to play a single minute for the PSG first team.
Indeed, throughout the calendar year of 2021, he has managed just five club matches of any sort.
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Three months after arriving in the French capital, he is enduring a frustrating sequence of apparently nearing action only to suffer a relapse with his calf problem.
And this is despite credible reports that PSG’s medical staff were ‘blown away’ by the physical condition of the player, who has spent much of his absence posting videos of himself looking in excellent shape in the gym.
On a lucrative contract, Ramos' absence is proving to be a costly issue for his club.
The last week has been sadly typical of what the central defensive legend has had to endure since arriving in France. He was announced as likely to feature only for reports to break on Wednesday that it was not going to be possible, followed by a club statement 24 hours later confirming the news.
“Sergio Ramos will continue to train individually under the control of the medical and performance staff for another 10 days with the objective of returning to collective training,” PSG announced on Thursday.
Ominously, “the objective” indicates that there is no guarantee that one of the greatest defenders of the 21st century will even be fit at that point.
In the meantime, he will miss three more games, including the grudge match with Marseille next Sunday, meaning that he will have watched 14 in total from the stands.
“For a football player, being in his situation is not easy,” head coach Mauricio Pochettino lamented on Thursday during the traditional pre-match press conference. “He suffers from not being able to play but he is mentally strong. He has the support of the whole club through this moment. We hope to see him soon.”
Pochettino also added that he has “no doubt that Sergio Ramos will return to his best level”, but if this is the case, he is in an increasing minority in France.
Indeed, in an interview with Movistar +, the Argentine even hinted he has his doubts over the Spaniard.
“Maybe the reality of Sergio Ramos is different from that of 2014 or that of Lionel Messi or Neymar,” he said. “These footballers are great champions but they have to get used to reality. We all have in mind that they have been the best, but they have to get to that level.”
The warning signs, after all, were there during his final season with Real Madrid. Ramos missed 30 matches in total for Real Madrid last season, and while that was certainly atypical of a warrior who has an impressive record physically over the course of a bruising career, it must be pointed out that he is now in his mid-30s.
It is also worth stressing that while Real Madrid were willing to keep him on, they were cautiously offering him only a one-year deal. He will be at PSG until 2023 at the earliest.
“Real Madrid didn’t extend his contract for many reasons. He was not called up to the European Championship with Spain. These are signs that never fail,” former PSG star Jerome Rothen told Le10Sport in mid-September after Ramos had suffered yet another relapse.
“We have the right to ask questions. And the answers worry me. If I was a director, a coach or even one of his team-mates, I would have the same concern.
“I would say to myself: ‘At his age, when you see the physical problems he’s had for a year, will he find his best level?’
“Having Ramos at 60 per cent, I don’t see the point. You have him so he’s good on the pitch and performs as well as he did during his great years with Real Madrid.
“And especially that he brings you this aura in the locker room, this desire to win, this competitive spirit ... that I have no doubt about, but if he is at 60% on the field or that he misses a lot of matches, how can he have an important role in the locker room? It's impossible!”
There are voices still speaking up in defence of PSG and Ramos, such as Eric Di Meco, another former Parisian star, but these are dwindling.
Speaking to RMC, he said: “Sergio Ramos did not come here to be top halfway through the season. I think he will be put to the service of PSG. We can talk about it in May.”
Shortly after the official announcement that he would not be fit to play against Angers, Ramos took to Instagram to post an image of himself at training with three muscle-flexing emojis.
Until he is more visible on the field than he is on social media, he is more likely to be remembered as a vlogger than a player at PSG.