While much of the discussion regarding Arsenal’s latest contract situation revolves around Jack Wilshere, there is one precarious situation which the club needs to sort out in order to avoid a repeat of the Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil debacles which have courted headlines throughout the current campaign.
Aaron Ramsey is having one of his best seasons in an Arsenal shirt. The Welshman has been directly involved in a goal every 101 minutes in all competitions, compared to Paul Pogba (every 162 mins), Cesc Fabregas (262 mins) and Gunners team-mate Wilshere (363 mins). Alongside Fabregas, he is the only central midfielder to score 50-plus goals for Arsenal in all competitions throughout the history of the club, a mark of just how far he has come since joining as a fresh-faced 17-year-old from Cardiff almost 10 years ago.
Ramsey’s contract situation is beginning to take more of a front seat after the Alexis and Ozil sagas were resolved three months ago. However, the midfielder confirmed after the win against AC Milan at the start of March that “there is nothing to comment on at the moment”, adding that “I think they’ve been busy to tie up other contracts at the moment”. When asked if his contract situation was further down the priority list at the club, Ramsey replied: “I think so.”. There is no doubt that Arsenal should be making it their priority to tie Ramsey down to a new long-term contract, building the team around him and Ozil for the next few years.
The 26-year-old is directly responsible for 34.4% of Arsenal’s league goals this season (per 90 minutes) compared with Ozil, who has contributed to 28.4%. These statistics are even more impressive when you consider that Ramsey was sidelined for a month towards the end of last year which saw the reintroduction of Wilshere into central midfield.
Ramsey has previously been compared to former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard by Arsene Wenger and the BT Sport pundit says that the Gunners would risk losing a player of “great quality” if Ramsey left the club.
“I’m an admirer of Aaron Ramsey and Arsenal must try to secure his long-term future at the club," Lampard told the Evening Standard. “Ramsey has just over a year left on his contract and once again Arsenal have got themselves in a position where one of their key player’s deals is running out. “It will probably come as no surprise to people that I like Ramsey. Like me, he makes late runs in the penalty area and he showed that with aplomb for the second goal at AC Milan last week.
“One wonders if he’s ever felt he’s the main man at Arsenal and that’s maybe why he might consider looking elsewhere. I feel some sympathy for him because his position has changed over the years at the club. Sometimes, because they’ve had so many attacking midfielders, he’s been dropped further back.
“On the other hand, I accept there maybe doubts over whether he performs consistently enough. He is class when at his best and I do feel there is another level for him to strive for. He showed great quality at the 2016 European Championships. Arsenal need to keep their good British players and build the team around them, with more strength and power as a priority.”
Lampard’s apt words come at a time when Arsenal face more uncertainty over whether Wenger will stay on as manager next season. The contractual confusion over whether Sanchez and Ozil were going to sign certainly played a part in the club’s early season woes and they cannot afford to let the Ramsey situation slip into something similar.
Ramsey plays best when he has protection behind him and freedom to go forward into the box. The timing of his runs and ability to get out of tight spaces makes him a sought-after player and it’s no surprise to see the likes of Juventus and Chelsea monitoring the ongoing contract situation which Arsenal will hope to get sorted sooner rather than later. He’s rediscovered the goalscoring touch that hasn’t been seen since the 2013/14 season, netting six times this season and making five assists across all competitions.
Alongside Granit Xhaka and a defensive midfielder, there is ample opportunity for Arsenal’s engine room to go onto the next level. Wilshere increasingly looks like he won’t be committing his future to the club, due to being frustrated with the terms on offer to him, but his performances this season, compared to Ramsey’s, surely make a firm case for why Arsenal should be doing everything to keep their Wales international at the club by offering him the contract he deserves.