Aaron Ramsey looked set to sign for Manchester United in the summer, given we were the team he supported and Ryan Giggs was his idol. However, after Wenger sent out a private jet and promised first team football, Ramsey’s decision was made a lot easier.
Clearly, Arsenal wanted the player more than United. Don’t forget that Sir Alex Ferguson turned up on Giggsy’s doorstep to convince him to sign, whereas for Ramsey, just sent Gary Neville along to try to seal the deal. It’s hardly the ‘star treatment’ we’d offer a player we were desperate to sign. However, Ferguson might live to regret not putting in more effort to sign the youngster, Giggs certainly seems to think so!
“Aaron Ramsey is the focal point and to build a team round him will be the future of Welsh football,” Giggs said. “I seen it straight off as soon as he come on in the Cup final really, just his balance and his touch and his confidence of ‘give me the ball and I’ll make something happen’. That is something that you look for in a player, does he want the ball, does he make things happen – and he does all them things. At 17, 18 that’s when you need to sort of build on your game and you learn every time you go out and train, every time you go out and play you learn something.”
Ramsey turns 18-years-old this month, yet so far, has only made three appearances in the league (43 minutes in all), with a total of nine appearances in all competitions. At the same point in Ronaldo’s career with United, when he was 18-years-old, he was starting every Premiership game for United. There’s only a matter of months separating Ramsey’s age now with Ronaldo’s age when he first joined us, yet Ronaldo was playing far more frequently. Considering Arsenal’s shallow squad, it’s odd that the youngster who was obviously promised more first team football, has played so little.
“Arsenal is a club which always gives young players an opportunity at the highest level of the game,” Ramsey said when explaining his decision to sign for Arsenal over United. Unless by ‘highest level’ he was referring to the League Cup, playing alongside other Arsenal kids, Ramsey was duped, and is still looking for the opportunity to get more than a handful of minutes at a time in the Premiership.
You would imagine that it was harder for a youngster to clock up first team football minutes for Manchester United than it was for Arsenal, but the examples of teenage Ronaldo, Rooney and Anderson, in recent years, suggest otherwise. Our youngsters have won Premiership medals and scored in a Champions League final shoot out, playing regularly at the top level.
It’s not just the big money buys at United that have been given a go though (although it has to be said, the £5 million Arsenal paid for a 17-year-old is hardly getting a player on the cheap!).
We can look at 18-year-old Rafael Da Silva (free) as another benchmark. He has already played in five league games (273 minutes in all), with a total of nine appearances in all competitions.
Even Darron Gibson (free), who most United fans would probably agree doesn’t have what it takes to cut it at United, is close to the same minutes in the Premiership as Ramsey this season, whilst Rodrigo Possebon (free), who missed a month or more through injury, is just seven minutes short of Ramsey’s Premiership football minutes, and would have certainly played more if not for that dreadful challenge by Pogatetz.
Arsenal will struggle to retain their top four place this season, considering the current position in the context of the easier fixtures they’ve enjoyed, which could leave Ramsey regretful, as he’s barely getting a game (and will get even fewer now after losing to Burnley in the League Cup) and wouldn’t have Champions League football. He doesn’t need to look much further than Theo Walcott to see his imminent future, who is still playing a minor role (playing 90 minutes in the league on just one occasion this season, being subbed on or off the field twelve times already this season) after his £5-12 million transfer almost three years ago.
This lad could become a bright star, just as Giggs has predicted, meaning we could live to regret Ferguson’s nonchalance in regards to Ramsey’s transfer. There are plenty of great players in the World though, and for every top player we miss out on, we’ll have another three through the door to fill their shoes. The stakes are a lot higher when a player makes the decision to turn down United though. There aren’t three other teams in this country that replicate our history or success, there won’t be three other opportunities to go back on the decision to reject a transfer to this club.
If in three years time Ramsey has no medals and just 38 Premiership starts to his name, like Walcott, he’ll be wondering what the fuck he was thinking about letting a flashy jet and a promise of more first team football, stand in the way of joining the team he’s grown up supporting and playing alongside his idol, lifting a trophy or two along the way.