Thoughts up to dry: Is Ramsey worth an extension?

Similarly to Alexis and Özil’s situastion at this time last year, another key figure at Arsenal, Ramsey, is edging uncomfortably close to the tipping point regarding his summer-expiring contract.

Why he is yet to extend his contract no one knows. Is it a money issue? Does Ramsey want to play more centrally? Is the Welshman yet to click the pen ready because he wants to see how Emery’s Arsenal unfolds? Or is it Arsenal who are stalling? Again, we don’t know. But regardless, is he worth an extension?

What does his stats, comparisons to others, potential for replacement and his role at the club tell us?

Goal contribution: One in three

From the first six games this season Ramsey has contributed no goals and two assists, both this Sunday against Everton. That is close to his overall statistic for Arsenal: 118 goal points in 337 games – or one goal contribution per 2,85 games.

That’s pretty good for a midfielder at first glance. But it doesn’t actually beat the goal contribution of other similar players in the league, such as Dele Alli (1,70) and Christian Eriksen (1,81), who is reported to make about the same as Ramsey soon (£110k-a-week), or Juan Mata (2,60), Fabregas (at Arsenal (2,04) and Chelsea (2,42)) and Kevin De Bruyne (1,55), who are all currently making more than Ramsey.

Accounting goal contribution, Ramsey is towards the bottom of the rank compared to his peers.

In other typical midfield departments, like passing rate, distance covered, chances created and tackle success rates, compared to playing time, he isn’t among the best either.

A player’s stats are also affected by the manager’s use of the player, which is out of his control. This is another problem.

Identity crisis

However, Emery does value the Welshman, saying this summer that he is keen on extending Ramsey’s contract.

“For me, I want him to stay with us, to work with us, to give the team the big performances with his quality. I think he is going to stay here with us”.

But he has distances himself from the process, saying, “I think Aaron is an important player for us. The contract is one thing for the club and the player.”

His longevity and professionalism is surely playing in his favour.

Ramsey is what I would call a workhorse, attacking midfielder whose role should be to produce end product. Someone who’s best when he’s basically collecting assists and goals as he runs tirelessly up and down the pitch. Similar to an Eriksen or De Bruyne – or better yet – a Hamsik.

What these players have in common though, is that they play roles within the team that suit this description.

In Emery’s system however, and to an extent in Wenger’s as well, we rarely see this side of Ramsey. He would be much more effective if he spent less time on the ball and more time being the passing option between the lines as the number ten or a roaming wide player. This would also strengthen Özil’s role as the team’s main playmaker. For too long they have shared the playmaker role. At the moment, Ramsey isn’t being utilised to his best, and if Emery can’t find the best role for him and the rest of the midfielders soon, in this new version of Arsenal, extending his contract might be a mistake.

Maybe this is where the problem lay: there’s too much change in the Arsenal team to make a clear decision yet.

Is expendable

With specialists like Mislintat and Sanllehi in control over the club’s recruitment, and a new, competitive midfield group, finding a better replacement for Ramsey, at his wage, shouldn’t be a tall order.

With so much change at Arsenal in the last year, replacing the club’s longest-serving player and the sole survivor of Wenger’s “British core”, doesn’t seem so far-fetched either.

Ramsey is a good player but he isn’t great compared to the top earners at Arsenal and his midfield rivals elsewhere in the Premier League. As a good, experienced, long-serving and somewhat effective midfielder, he does deserve an extension – but with a medium ranged raise. A raise to £150k-a-week, in this market, shouldn’t be too far a stretch for the club, and considering Emery’s comments about him.

But the ball is very much in Ramsey’s court, like it was Alexis and Özil. If he goes for a safe two-pointer and renews his vows with Arsenal, like Özil, or tries a risky three-pointer and signs elsewhere next year, like Alexis, I think comes down to how Emery’s Arsenal evolves before Christmas and Ramsey’s role in it.

ramsey
Photo: Stuart MacFarlane

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