The news that Juventus are interested in Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey hasn’t been met with universal glee by fans of the Bianconeri.
Sporting director Fabio Paratici confirmed this week that he and his colleagues are monitoring the Welshman’s situation, and with his contract expiring at the end of the season they are free to open talks with him from this month. Indeed, this morning’s newspapers indicate that a deal is practically done already.
In many ways it would be a classic Juve transfer. Since their revival under the guidance of Giuseppe Marotta, now at Inter, the Bianconeri have always been attentive to players who can arrive on a Bosman transfer.
Andrea Pirlo’s arrival in 2011 swung the balance of power from Milan to Turin, while Fernando Llorente, Emre Can, Kingsley Coman and Sami Khedira have all joined on free transfers. The same is true of Paul Pogba, who joined for just a development fee after his contract at Manchester United expired, before being sold back to the Red Devils for €105m.
Targeting Ramsey then is entirely consistent with the approach shown by Marotta and Paratici, with the latter now solely in charge of transfer strategy. The reason for the cautious reception to the news of Juve’s interest though is that Ramsey comes with some drawbacks.
The first and most obvious problem is that he won’t be cheap. A huge television deal means Premier League wages are well above those in Serie A, and the Gunners have been unable to agree a new deal with Ramsey. Estimates of the offer made by Juventus range from €6.5m per season to €9m, with even the lower end of that range taking him close to the likes of Paulo Dybala in terms of salary.
With the exception of the outlier that is Cristiano Ronaldo, Ramsey would become one of the Old Lady’s most handsomely paid players. For a player who has long struggled to deliver consistently, it’s easy to see why there are concerns.
At the age of 28, Ramsey is no longer a promising youngster, but he remains a player who has never completed over 40 games in a season. Indeed, he has managed over 30 Premier League appearances only once since the 2012-13 season. A player who struggles with fitness, would command a high salary, and has never played outside the UK before isn’t quite the bargain a free transfer would suggest.
Look a little deeper though, and the Welshman could be exactly the player Juventus need. Massimiliano Allegri’s defence is still as watertight as ever, and with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo the attack is one of the best in the world.
Nonetheless, performances before the winter break brought groans from the fans, and that’s largely down to the midfield. Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic are fine technical players, but not ones who break into the opposition box. Emre Can and Blaise Matuidi provide industry and a physical presence, but are similarly unlikely to provide a link between midfield and attack.
Khedira, meanwhile, looks close to finished at the highest level. The German usually plays when fit, and Allegri clearly knows more about him than those of us watching at home or in the stadium, but repeated muscular injuries look to have taken their toll.
What Juventus need is some drive in the midfield, someone who can link to the attack, providing goals and assists from the middle of the park. Ramsey could be the man.
The 28-year-old has started only eight Premier League games this season, but he’s got two goals and six assists in that time. In 2017-18 he hit double figures in goals between the Premier League and Europa League, also getting nine assists.
With an average of around 51 passes per match throughout his league career, Ramsey’s success rate in that area is regularly over 85 per cent. While that’s not as good as Pjanic or Bentancur it’s certainly not bad, and the midfielder would bring a new dynamic to the Juve midfield.
It has been suggested that Ramsey could arrive as soon as January, and if the reported €5m fee is accurate, it could well be yet another great deal for Juventus.