When Aaron Ramsey left Arsenal for Juventus in 2019, few begrudged the Wales international his switch to the Italian champions.
After 10 years at the Emirates Stadium, in which he made 369 appearances, scoring a number of crucial goals and winning three FA Cups, he took advantage of his contract situation to secure a lucrative switch to Turin.
Similar to Wales teammate Gareth Bale, the former Cardiff youngster wanted a new experience after a decade in North London.
The huge salary and signing on fee on offer from the Bianconeri were undoubtedly a major bonus, but the biggest thing for Ramsey was that new challenge and a chance to compete for major titles – as well as returning to the Champions League.
In his debut season he won Serie A, making 35 appearances in all competitions under Maurizio Sarri.
But the 61-time Wales international – a vital component in their run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals – has seen less action under Andrea Pirlo this term.
Now, amid a change in policy with a side skewing younger after a push to bring in the likes of Federico Chiesa, Arthur, Dejan Kulusevski and Weston McKennie, he has been somewhat pushed to the sidelines.
At the age of 30, Ramsey has made 26 appearances in all competitions this term, but has played the full 90 minutes only once, scoring just twice.
With Juve tied into Cristiano Ronaldo’s mega-money deal and dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, they’re keen to get Ramsey’s £400k-per-week off the books and are open to a summer exit.
But that may well be easier said than done.
Like Bale in recent years when Real Madrid were trying get rid, the combination of Ramsey’s contract – both his salary and because he has two years left – his age and propensity to suffer niggling injuries just isn’t a good fit for pretty much every Premier League club. That’s even more true if any kind of transfer fee is required, as Juve are within their rights to demand.
Then there is the fact that Ramsey may well not want to give up his big-money deal and may not want to leave Italy.
But what if he does? What if he is willing to take a pay cut and head to the Premier League? Then what are his options?
Manchester United and Liverpool have both been mooted as possible destinations, but one already has a surplus of attack-minded midfielders while the other’s recruitment policy and the growth in the last 18 months of Curtis Jones simply makes the deal a non-starter – even with Gini Wijnaldum set to depart.
Of the other ‘Big Six’ members, Chelsea and Manchester City both have a wealth of options in that area already and Tottenham took a punt on Bale this season and this doesn’t have the same tug on the heart-strings – and that’s before you even mention his history on the other side of North London.
So what of Arsenal? Well they’ve moved on and are developing Emile Smith Rowe to do what Ramsey used to.
Perhaps if they cannot keep Martin Odegaard or Dani Ceballos and become desperate for reinforcements towards the end of summer, then they could pursue a loan deal if they can make the finances work and if Ramsey is open to the idea.
But simply, why go back when other options will be available?
Outside of the Premier League’s biggest spenders, Everton look the most viable option. Farhad Moshiri has deep pockets and Carlo Ancelotti didn’t move to Goodison to potter in mid-table; the Italian knows his side need more goals from midfield next season and Ramsey could do that.
Perhaps in previous years West Ham would have been presented as an option, but Tomas Soucek has proven such an important part of their play this term and David Moyes may feel that Ramsey would stifle the Czech. Their focus has to be on keeping Jesse Lingard also.
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Aston Villa took Ross Barkley on loan from Chelsea this term and Ramsey could be a possibility if they can finance a similar deal; however, they may well feel they need to improve more in other areas rather than central midfield (especially having splashed out in January on Morgan Sanson).
Other than those, anywhere else in England looks fanciful right now, at a time when belts have had to be tightened due to coronavirus.
Juventus may want to move Ramsey on, but it’s going to be far from simple given the money he has left on the table in Turin, while anyone keen to bring him in is going to need to get creative in order to make the financial element add up.
There will need to be a lot of give and take from all parties to get any summer return over the line.
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