You would have had to have been made of some strong stuff if you weren’t the victim of a sudden bout of hay fever as Aaron Ramsey strode onto the Emirates pitch for the final time.
Having recovered from a devastating broken leg at Stoke to score not one, but two FA Cup final winners, the Welsh midfielder who had arrived from Cardiff as a boy, was leaving London as a man.
“It’s been a hell of a journey,” said Ramsey battling against the tears.
“Eleven years of my life and so much has happened in that. When I look back, you can tell by my voice how much it means to me.
“I’m just very thankful for the opportunity to play for this great club and spend so many years [with Arsenal].
“I came here at 17 years old – a boy. I’m really leaving a man, I’ve got a family.
“So much has happened, so I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”
Ramsey’s loss to Arsenal was far more than sentimental though. In a footballing sense his absence has left an attacking void in central midfield that they have struggled to fill ever since.
As a result the Gunners becamse heavily dependent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for attacking output with the Gabonese forward being responsible for 46% of their strikes in the Premier League as well as scoring all of their goals in the FA Cup semi final and final wins against Manchester City and Chelsea.
This over-reliance on one player always felt precarious and when the 31-year-old stopped scoring at the beginning of this season so did Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta‘s side fell quickly down the table and at times throughout their winless run in November and December as they struggled to break down low block after low block, it looked as though they were crying out for a player with Ramsey ability to make unpredictable late runs into the box from deep.
Despite a recent pick up in attacking threat with the introduction of Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe into the side, scoring goals from midfield still remains a problem. Joe Willock is still the club’s top scoring midfielder (with three goals) despite the fact that he left to join Newcastle on loan two months ago.
With reports suggesting that Ramsey is now no longer a part of Juventus’ plans beyond the end of this season it would seem that a return for the Welshman would be able to solve that problem.
Goalscoring central midfielders are a precious commodity in modern football and the impact Ilkay Gundogan has had on Manchester City this season is proof of how important they can be to a team when used effectively.
However, there are a few conditions that would make a deal to sign Ramsey back for Arsenal not quite as appealing as it initially seems.
First of all the player is now 30-years-of-age and as Arteta seeks to build for the future, investing in someone who is realistically only going to be able to perform at the top level for another two-to-three years maximum would seem to make little sense.
Then there is the Welshman’s troublesome injury record to take into consideration. The Welshman often struggled for fitness in his time with Arsenal and in his two years at Juventus he has missed 118 days of football due a spate of muscle problems.
Perhaps most importantly of all though is Ramsey’s astronomical wage packet.
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Reports suggest that he is on £400,000 per week at the Serie A champions and given that Arsenal recently announced a financial loss of £47.8m, there is no way they could afford such a salary even if they wanted to. Even half of that would probably still be outside of the Gunners budget.
If he was willing to significantly reduce his financial demands then maybe the deal would be justifiable but under all other circumstances it is pretty much a non-starter.
It’s a shame as from footballing sense there are clear capabilities that Ramsey would be able to offer Arsenal.
But with money set to be tight this summer, the Gunners would be best served spending their limited resources elsewhere.