Ramsey in January: Sell or keep?

As this blog wrote earlier about Ramsey and if he’s worth a contract extension or not (before the news about contract talks breaking down last week), it concluded that he does deserve an extension but nowhere near what he is reported asking for.

Now, everything points toward the exit door for the Welshman, even more so than when Özil and Alexis where in a similar position one year ago, as his agent have commented, “The club made a decision. Life goes on,” and, “He didn’t want to leave, but now there’s no other option,” when confronted about the news on Twitter.

It seems Emery and/or Mislintat and Sanllehi have identified Ramsey as a misfit to the new tactical system or sub-par to the role Emery wants him to play in it.

Ramsey’s performance and his sublime goal against Fulham makes this news harder to swallow, as it made Arsenal fans recall the heartbreak when Alexis left for Man United last January, and a surge of hope that somehow the club and the player can find common ground before it’s too late. However, it seems we’ll go through this break-up again, now with the current, longest-serving player at the club.

This predicament leaves Arsenal with two simple options: Sell in January or keep him until his contract expires and let him go for free in the summer.

Which none should it be, and just how should Arsenal let him leave? And how much is he really worth in January?

If Arsenal are to sell in January, a similar deal as the Alexis deal is improbable. Alexis was worth much more and was more important to Arsenal than Ramsey is now. One of the reasons Arsenal got Mkhitaryan was so that United could offload Mkhi’s already high wages (£150,000) before signing Alexis to a mega deal (£350,000).

Ramsey’s valuation would be in the range of £40-50m with between one and two years on his contract. Now, with less than eight months remaining, and the news of contract talks breaking down, Arsenal can only (kindly) ask for up to £20m.

What does £20m give a football club looking for a midfielder these days? Usually not very much. An unknown midfielder who had a good World Cup performance for Uruguay, Torreira, cost Arsenal nearly £30m from Sampdoria. Fred cost Man United over £50m from Shakhtar.

But the fact that Arsenal have Mislintat and Sanllehi in control of recruitment is reassuring. They brought Sokratis to Arsenal for about £15m. And Mislintat, aka “Diamond Eye,” found Guendouzi from second tier Lorient for about £7m.

With such an effective and reputable recuitment team, Arsenal should do well without having to spend trucks of money.

If Arsenal do sell in January, bringing in a new attacking midfielder would be interesting but not essential. Mkhitaryan, Iwobi and Smith-Rowe should be sufficient cover for now. It could be risky spending the money this early too as Emery seems to still be searching for the ideal formation for his Arsenal team, surprising us with a 4-4-2 formation against Fulham. If Emery’s search is incomplete by January, waiting until the summer could be the wisest choice.

Unfortunately, there’s no room for Ramsey as part of the two central midfielders. Here Arsenal have Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi and Elneny, three of whom are in great form. Ramsey has been playing a lot from the number ten position so far this season, a position we, and increasingly seemingly Emery, know should be left for Özil. That leaves the flanks, the right flank more specifically. And although you could see him beat Mkhitaryan and perhaps Iwobi for this position at times, what’s really the point when this isn’t the best solution for the team or Ramsey himself? Letting Ramsey find a club where he can play centrally —  and Arsenal to reinvest in someone more suitable — is the best solution.

Ramsey looks to become another victim of the tsunami of change at Arsenal. Although he could’ve been an important player for this new Arsenal side, considering the circumstances, selling him in January is, as it was with Alexis, the right decision.

Photo: Stuart MacFarlane

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