Friday, May 24, 2024

Aaron Ramsey heads for Italy and he’s an Arsenal legend to me

May 17th 2014. Arsenal fans have been put through the absolute wringer by their team. 2-0 down to Hull City inside 9 minutes of our first FA Cup final since 2005, and it was almost 3-0 but thankfully Kieran Gibbs headed a goal-bound header off the line.

Santi Cazorla pulled one back with a glorious free kick, and Laurent Koscielny scored the most Laurent Koscielny goal to level it in the second half. Gibbs missed a brilliant chance to win it in normal time, but blasted over the bar and into extra-time we went. Giroud hit the crossbar, we looked like the team most likely to score but when you know Arsenal as well as we do that doesn’t mean we’re not also the team most likely to concede.

The second period of extra-time. Yaya Sanogo is causing ripples in the space-time continuum with his mere presence, but then we work the ball into the box, Giroud backheels it and there’s Aaron Ramsey to apply the finish and we’re 3-2 up. Pandemonium. Joy. Relief. Hope. 119th minute terror when Fabianski comes out and they put the ball just wide but in the end the Welshman’s goal is enough and Arsenal win the cup.

The trophy drought is over. Nine years, that’s all we’ve got. 9 years, my brain hurts a lot. I still have goosebumps writing about it this morning, because it was one of the best days ever. Stick your ‘It’s only the FA Cup’ right up your bum. It meant so much. It meant so much celebrating, sticky floors in the Tollington, hugs and Arsenal love. It meant so much of a hangover. But all of it was worth it and I’d do it again tomorrow.

Or in 2017 when Chelsea had just scored a stupid goal and before we’d even really had a chance for that to sink in Giroud did it again, providing the pass for Ramsey to head home and make it 2-1 and hahahaha John Terry going up the steps to collect his loser medal and loving Rob Holding and Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal but also the man who scored the winner in the cup final for the second time.

Frankly I don’t care what way other people want to define the term legend, it’s never going to be something that everyone agrees on, but for my money the player who helped crown two of the best days out I’ve ever had as an Arsenal fan can wear that t-shirt all day long as far as I’m concerned. If he doesn’t meet your criteria, that’s fine. Don’t @ me – especially if you’ve just read the headline and not the article – and sorry bro I’ll take it into consideration but he ticks the boxes for me.

And yesterday it was confirmed that he’ll be a Juventus player next season:

Turin, 11 February 2019 – Juventus Football Club S.p.A. announces that a contract of employment with the player Aaron James Ramsey, effective as of 1st July 2019 and expiring on 30 June 2023, has been signed. As a result of the registration of the player, Juventus will incur additional costs of € 3.7 million, to be paid within 10th July 2019.

Aaron James Ramsey also provided a message for the fans:

As you may have already heard, I have agreed a pre-contract with Juventus Football Club.

I wanted to issue a personal statement for all the Arsenal fans who have been extremely loyal and supportive. You welcomed me as a teenager and have been there for me through all the highs and lows I’ve encountered during my time at the club. It is with a heavy heart that I leave after 11 incredible years in North London. Thank you.

I will continue to give the team 100% and hope to finish the season strongly, before heading on to my next chapter in Turin.

Kind regards,

Is that not the most Ramsey statement of all time? Kind regards!

Please have the financial reports on my desk first thing in the morning.

Kind regards,

I am unable to attend the parent-teacher meeting this evening because I have very bad diarrhea.

Kind regards,

Your workplace behaviour has been below par for some time now. Please make more of an effort or we will have to take this to HR.

Kind regards,

I thought the Arsenal statement was a bit flat, all things considered. He’s been here for 11 years, suffered a dreadful injury, but leaves the club’s highest scoring central midfielder of all time with two FA Cup winners to his name, and it sort of continues a recent them in which club statements lack the kind of personal touch we had previously seen. Maybe we need a new Head of Press Releases.

Anyway, the point is he’s going and according to reports is going to earn a massive salary in Italy next season. Of course part of the reason his salary is so big is because he’s available for free, the signing-on fee he’ll be paid will likely be spread out over the course of his contract on top of his basic wage, and he’s got a fantastic deal for himself. He’ll play for one of the biggest clubs in Europe, have a genuine chance of winning the title there, and will be back in the Champions League with a team that can be competitive in that competition.

I think the fact that clubs like Juventus and Real Madrid were interested tells you a lot about his quality, and in England there was definite interest from Chelsea and in particular Manchester United which he eschewed to go abroad. He could just as easily have signed for another English club but didn’t, so there’s another little tick in the right boxes for me.

From an Arsenal point of view we’re losing a very good player for free and however you want to look at it that’s bad business, particularly when he’ll be followed out the door by Danny Welbeck this summer who will also leave without us receiving a single penny. It’s a situation we should have dealt with earlier, as unpopular as it might have been, but at the same time I understand it’s complicated.

Wenger had just left, Unai Emery spoke keenly about working with Ramsey when he first arrived, and selling one of the club’s best players during a summer of intense change and turmoil wouldn’t have been easy. I think we thought we could convince him to stay the way we did with Ozil and Walcott in similar situations, but it wasn’t to be. There was a contract offered, it wasn’t signed, it was withdrawn. It’s far from ideal but then I don’t think anyone could quite have predicted Ramsey’s departure would also coincide with the mess that is the Ozil situation too.

Over the years Ramsey hasn’t perhaps hit the heights as consistently as we’d have hoped, but man he scored some amazing goals for us. That Galatasaray hit with his left foot into the top corner is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and there’s a highlight reel out there for the Arsenal video making community to get on top of. What I liked most about him though was the fact he never hid on the pitch. Even during periods when things weren’t going well for him and the crowd was on his back at times, he believed fully in himself and his ability to produce for the team.

We’re losing a really good player, one we’re going to have to replace without the benefit of a fee commensurate with his talent, and that makes an already difficult summer even more so. There is still the possibility of one more cup final before the end though.

May 2019: The 89th minute in Baku, Azerbaijan: the ball breaks to Ramsey on the edge of the box … what a way that would be to say goodbye. A cup final winning goal hat-trick. I know it’s a long-shot, but then so was that one against Galatasaray …

Till tomorrow.

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