Reds miss out on Ramsey
Posted by nickogs20 on June 11, 2008
Cardiff City’s 17 year old wonderkid Aaron Ramsey has turned down offers from United and Everton in favour of a move to Arsenal, with a £5m deal expected to go through in the next few days. Ramsey had been widely expected to move to Manchester, and losing out on his signature will be a bitter blow for Sir Alex Ferguson (not to mention an embarrassment to the club after an article on manutd.com last Monday appeared to practically announce the capture of the Welsh youngster). The instinctive reaction of most fans in this situation, when a transfer target opts to sign for a rival club, is to feign indifference (“His loss, player x in the reserves is a better prospect anyway”) or blame financial motives, but it’s worth considering just why Ramsey, supposedly a lifelong United fan, might have turned us down.
The most likely reason would seem to be the player’s desire to play Premier League football as soon as possible. United’s offer to Cardiff of course included a proposal to loan Ramsey back to the Bluebirds, with the Reds feeling a full season in the Championship would be of benefit to him. Arsenal on the other hand have included no such proposal, and are likely to include the midfielder in their first-team squad for 08/09. Taking into consideration the size of the two clubs’ squads as well, it’s conceivable that Ramsey thought his best chance of breaking into the first team quickly would be at the Emirates, and it’s hard to disagree. All the hype surrounding this kid talks of a fiercely-determined, ruthlessly single-minded individual, but does his decision perhaps betray a slight lack of confidence in his own chances of making it with the European Champions?
Arsenal fans will of course immediately cite their manager’s reputation for giving youth a chance as a key factor, and while they’re often prone to exaggeration, it’s a fair point. The Gunners have brought through a number of talented young players over the last few years, that’s impossible to deny. But they’ve also had their share of kids stagnate through lack of first-team opportunities. What’s more, while United may not have had a homegrown kid come through the ranks and establish themselves for a few years now (one could argue the same goes for Arsenal), Sir Alex has shown his willingness to give the very best young players a chance – Ronaldo, Rooney, and more recently Nani and Anderson. If Ramsey is as good as he’s made out to be, there’s nothing to suggest he wouldn’t have gotten his chance at Old Trafford. What’s more, Sir Alex’s way of doing things is backed up by a number of recent trophies, whilst Arsenal go into 08/09 seeking to end a run of three potless seasons.
Maybe the clubs’ differing approaches to the transfer played a part. Arsenal had Ramsey and family flown out to Switzerland on a private jet to meet Arsene Wenger (who is at Euro 2008) and discuss a possible move. In contrast, Ramsey only spoke to Sir Alex on the telephone, with Gary Neville being entrusted with ‘selling’ United to the 17 year old. United are normally very good at this sort of thing (there are all number of stories of Fergie pulling out all the stops to sign young players, visiting them in person or inviting them to visit him and so on), yet we don’t appear to have covered ourselves in glory with the handling of this transfer. Maybe there was a hint of arrogance there? An expectation that the player was in the bag so we didn’t need to go the extra mile.
Ultimately the only people who know why Ramsey chose Arsenal are the kid himself, and those close to him. I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume money wasn’t a major factor here, although I may be being naive. I suspect Aaron’s chosen Arsenal due to the prospect of quicker route to the first-team, and while – as I said above – this may indicate an underlying lack of self-belief (it surely has to take a lot to dissuade a 17 year old from signing for the club he loves), you have to respect his decision and, within reason, wish him well. Will missing out on him come back to haunt us? Who knows. I can’t help feeling that even if he does set the world alight at Arsenal, his favourite position could well be occupied for the next ten years at United by he who is class with the brass, and as such there’s certainly no need to be overly disappointed to miss out on this one. Only time will tell though.