A good litmus test for gauging the value of an incoming player is to assess the reactions of the departing fan base. For Aaron Ramsey, the love Arsenal fans have for him is akin to that of Claudio Marchisio at Juventus.
The 28-year-old Welshmen has been a fixture at the Emirates for the better part of the past 11 seasons. Described by former manager Arsene Wenger as “a player with a fantastic engine, good build, good technique and good vision,” Ramsey has mostly featured as a central midfielder, and at times as an attacking midfielder and right-sided midfielder. He has been lauded for his ability to both defend and attack.
He took the Premier League by storm in the 2013-14 season as a 23-year-old, scoring 16 goals and providing 10 assists in 34 appearances for the Gunners. Alongside Yaya Touré, he was rated the best central midfielder in the Premier League that season.
Ramsey has made 22 Premier League appearances for Arsenal this season, nine as a starter and 13 as a substitute. According to WhoScored, he is tied for ninth in the Premier League with 6 assists, despite limited playing time. At Juventus, that figure would tie him with Cristiano Ronaldo for most assists on the team. Four of those assists have come as a substitute, which is the most in the Premier League.
He also has two goals as a substitute, one of which is a fine example of the quality Ramsey can still provide. In a match against Fulham in October, Ramsey controls the ball deep in his own half and begins a counter-attack by flicking the ball over a defender. After a back and forth with Alexandre Lacazette and Hector Bellerin, he runs the length of the field down to the penalty box and puts a cheeky backheel to the far post for a goal. He had been on the field for less than two minutes.
Defensively, he has averaged 1.9 tackles per match — which would be behind only Blaise Matuidi on Juventus — and has shown a knack for making potentially goal-saving tackles from behind. His defensive contribution is one of his strongest attributes, and he runs strong with the ball in his possession, something that could potentially be a big benefit considering Juventus’ recent struggles against the press.
Ramsey has scored 52 goals and provided 54 assists in 302 appearances for club and country. He is adored by the Welsh and was voted as part of UEFA’s starting 11 Team of the Tournament at the 2016 Euros. Though he has fallen out of favor as a regular starter under Unai Emery at Arsenal, it is mainly due to contractual issues. Ryan Giggs, manager of the Welsh national team, thinks Ramsey will greatly improve with a move to a top-tier club like Juventus.
The question becomes this: How will Ramsey fit in at Juve?
Max Allegri has shown preference this season for a three-man midfield featuring Miralem Pjanic, Matuidi, and Rodrigo Bentancur, though Allegri is known for changing tactics, as he showed in their win against Chievo Verona, displaying offensive prowess in a 4-4-2 with Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi on the wings. I think his best fit would have him deputizing behind Pjanic, Matuidi, and Bentancur in a 4-3-3, taking minutes from Sami Khedira as a bench option who could provide a spark with his vision and technique.
My biggest concern is his impact on the development of Bentancur, who has blossomed in a starting role under Allegri this season, but as luck has shown with injuries you can never have too many midfielders. That is something Ramsey knows all too well. The biggest knock on his game is his inability to stay healthy. According to Transfer Markt, he has missed 113 games since the beginning of the 2009-10 season due to injury.
Ramsey is far removed from his prolific 2013-14 campaign, and we can’t realistically expect him to regain that form. However, he still has a lot to offer as an imaginative, box-to-box central midfielder with the ability to turn a game on its head. It was only one season ago that he was voted as Arsenal’s player of the season for the second time in his career. According to TransferMarket, he is currently valued at €40 million in the open market. As a free transfer, it certainly looks like Juventus could have another steal on their hands. There are a large number of Arsenal fans that would likely agree.