He may not be the most glamourous name at Arsenal, but Aaron Ramsey has been an excellent servant to the club these past few years.
Huge stars have come and gone, but the Welshman has remained ever present through good times and bad for the Gunners.
But rumours emanating from the club suggest he has so far resisted demand to sign a new contract; setting clubs from across the continent on red alert.
If agreement is reached, Ramsey could walk away from Arsenal next summer; he could even sign pre-contract terms with a foreign outfit as early as January 1.
No Deal Exit
The 27-year-old’s importance to the club was summed up by boss Unai Emery, who has made an extended deal for the midfielder a priority. When quizzed on why Ramsey hadn’t signed on the dotted line, Emery said: “This is one question for the player, the club, but my opinion – I said to them – I think he is one important player for me.”
Of course, it could all be a question of money; when the Gunners up the ante somewhat, it’s quite possible that Ramsey will suddenly find his biro.
But assuming he is unhappy at the club for whatever reason, there will be no shortage of takers for a supreme creator in the peak years of his career.
Here’s where the betting market is predicting Aaron Ramsey will end up.
AC Milan (2/1)
As mentioned, foreign clubs can steal a march on their English rivals by opening contract negotiations in January, and the market is suggesting that AC Milan could be the ones to prosper.
They have appointed former Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, as their new CEO, and he naturally knows Ramsey well from their time together at the Gunners.
There is a precedent for British midfielders trying their luck in Italy – Paul Gascoigne at Lazio and David Platt at Sampdoria being two obvious examples, while Ramsey’s international teammate Gareth Bale also left London for glory and hot weather on the continent.
Ladbrokes’ spokesman, Alex Apati, said: “Ivan Gazidis’ decision to leave Arsenal for AC Milan forced us to slash odds on Arsene Wenger following suit. And the domino effect may well reach Ramsey when the transfer window reopens, with contract talks reportedly breaking down with the Gunners.”
Stylistically at least, Ramsey to Chelsea makes sense.
The Welshman is very good in possession, and that suits the evolution taking place at Stamford Bridge under Maurizio Sarri.
But with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic as his first choice trio in the middle of the park, and the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek waiting in the wings, it’s hard to see why Roman Abramovich would shell out more wages on a player not guaranteed a first team shirt.
|Player||Year Signed for Chelsea||Transfer Fee|
|Cesc Fabregas||2014 (from Barcelona)||£30 million|
|Danny Drinkwater||2017 (from Leicester)||£35 million|
|Jorginho||2018 (from Napoli)||£50 million|
|Mateo Kovacic||2018 (from Real Madrid)||Loan|
|N’Golo Kante||2016 (from Leicester)||£30 million|
|Ross Barkley||2018 (from Everton)||£15 million|
|Ruben Loftus-Cheek||2014 (youth academy)||–|
Liverpool (5/1) or Everton (6/1)
It’s a similar scenario to Chelsea at Liverpool, where Jurgen Klopp has messrs Henderson, Milner, Keita, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho and Lallana at his disposal.
Would Ramsey improve the Reds’ squad? Absolutely. But would he command a guaranteed first team start? Not necessarily.
Klopp seems to prefer his midfielders as stoic hard workers or bustling types who can break the midfield line, and Ramsey’s conductor style in the middle of the pitch does not really fit the bill.
Then there is the blue half of the city, would you leave the prestige and the potential for silverware at Arsenal for a mid-table scrap with Everton?
It seems unlikely that the Toffees could compete, financially, with other teams on this hitlist, and so there doesn’t seem any obvious reason why Ramsey would head to Merseyside; he’s already getting first choice football at Arsenal.
Arguably more likely would be Barkley to Everton and Ramsey to Chelsea, but even then that’s a leap of faith that would require several plots to fall into place.
Manchester United (8/1)
You suspect that, right now, Jose Mourinho would do anything to get Paul Pogba out of Old Trafford.
Ramsey would be one potential replacement, although the kind of transfer fee Pogba commands means that only a small handful of clubs could secure his signature.
Mourinho has a habit of stockpiling midfielders, and he is willing to rely on British players as key figures in his squad.
But you would assume there would have to be a couple of major departures before the club made a move for Ramsey.