Aaron Ramsey’s summer move from Arsenal to Juventus has been confirmed. Ramsey will be joining the Serie A leaders to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Miralem Pjanic and a number of Europe’s top players. So where does Ramsey fit in?
He doesn’t have the star power of Ronaldo, but Ramsey is something of a typical midfield signing by Juventus in recent years.
In 2011 they signed 31-year-old Andrea Pirlo on a free transfer. A year later they got Paul Pogba for nothing from Manchester United, then in 2015 they signed 28-year-old Sami Khedira on a free transfer from Real Madrid. Blaise Matuidi, 30, followed for a seemingly cut-price fee of £18.2m in 2017 and last summer they snapped up Emre Can from Liverpool on a free transfer.
Now they are getting Ramsey, 28, for free, although his wages are big enough to make him the highest-paid British player of all time.
Not only does the above suggest Juventus place a significance on having experience in their midfield – and usually not spending much to get it – but it also shows the competition that Ramsey faces for a starting spot. Some of it anyway.
There’s also Pjanic and Rodrigo Bentancur.
Juventus’ most favoured formation this season has been a 4-3-3 with Ronaldo, Mario Mandzukic and Dybala leading the attack and Bentancur, Pjanic and Matuidi in midfield.
While Juve already appear to have plenty of options, Ramsey might add a different factor when he joins at the end of the season.
He prefers to operate as a central attacking midfielder and is renowned for his late runs into the box, his creativity and scoring goals, which is something Juventus have lacked from midfield.
No Juventus midfielder has scored more than two goals in Serie A this season while last season Khedira scored nine and the next best was Pjanic with five. In 2016/17 the highest-scoring Juventus midfielder again scored five goals, while Pogba reached eight in Serie A in 2015/16.
It’s also notable that Ramsey has provided six assists in the Premier League this season. That’s three more than any Juventus midfielder – even though the Welshman has only started nine league matches.
It has been reported that Ramsey’s wish to play in a more advanced midfield role is a reason why he is leaving Arsenal.
While he might not fit Unai Emery’s plans, Sky in Italy reporter Francesco Cosatti thinks Ramsey could be a good fit for Allegri’s side.
“He is an athletic player with a good sense of the goal. He is perfect to play with Ronaldo and Mandzukic.
“I think Bentancur and Emre Can have similar qualities to Ramsey but they do not have the same ability to score goals as Ramsey does.”
While Pogba largely played on the left of midfield at Juventus, Ramsey is likely to prefer a more central role. Juve will be hoping that he can provide a few goals from midfield that have been somewhat lacking since Pogba’s departure.
Italy legend Pirlo, who was signed by Juventus on a free transfer in 2011, has described Ramsey as a “great purchase”.
“He is a talented player,” he told Sky in Italy. “He is a complete player who can do pretty much everything. And he scores a lot. Juventus are preparing another excellent deal. He is a strong player and could do very well.”
With his contract running down and no new deal on the horizon, Ramsey has been in and out of the Arsenal side this season. His professionalism, though, has been noted by team-mate Laurent Koscielny, among others.
“Sometimes players just think about themselves before the club, but he is a very good professional. He will give 100 per cent for the club until the end.”
This work ethic is likely to serve him well under Allegri.
Ramsey will not be a guaranteed starter every week for Juventus as Allegri likes to rotate his team, with only Ronaldo starting more than 20 Serie A matches (out of a maximum 23) for Juve this season and the midfield regularly shuffled.
Dybala and Mandzukic have both started 17 league matches and the former might be impacted by Ramsey’s arrival. There are already questions about whether Ronaldo and Dybala can play together, and Ramsey might occupy similar spaces to Dybala in attacking positions.
But, with both Matuidi and Khedira soon turning 32 and Can yet to really impress since his move from Liverpool, there could be an opening for Ramsey.
Former Wales manager John Toshack, who has managed abroad on a number of occasions, thinks Ramsey’s versatility could help him settle in Turin.
“I don’t know if Aaron is disciplined enough to play in front of the defence. I am also not sure he scores enough to play close to the strikers,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He might do better in a three-man midfield, where he has the possibility to push forward, or perhaps in a three supporting the centre-forward. In modern football you do need to be versatile and he is a modern player.”
Ramsey is following in the footsteps of a couple of Wales legends in joining Juventus. John Charles is regarded as the club’s best-ever foreign player, but Ian Rush, in contrast, spent just one season at the club and is best remembered for, apparently, saying it was like “living in a foreign country”.
Where will Ramsey fit in between his two Welsh predecessors?
(c) Sky News 2019: How will Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey fit in at Juventus?