Gaston Ramirez: Why Southampton's Record Signing Can Save Saints from Relegation
Southampton smashed their transfer record with the deadline day signing of former Bologna attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez, signing the Uruguayan for a fee of around £12 million—big money for a recently-promoted club without guarantees of survival.
Ramirez's talents are undeniable, as is the sense of investing in him for a relatively modest fee in terms of what he could have gotten elsewhere, especially given his resale value and being just 21 years of age.
Southampton will try not to rest all their hopes of survival on this one player but at the same time they will hope that, as one of their top players, he will be decisive when it matters and provide the goods for them to win enough points and stay in the Premier League.
Here are five reasons why Ramirez can help save Southampton from being relegated.
Removes a Burden of Responsibility from Adam Lallana
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Southampton's captain is also the inspiration behind much of their final third play: the impressive and intelligent Adam Lallana.
While the attacking midfielder—recently called into the England national team squad—is a very capable player who will have success in the Premier League and will likely help his team win points, Saints don't want to overly rely on any one player.
Having another good quality player in the final third will help remove some of the responsibility from Lallana which could have a dual effect; firstly letting him play his natural game without worrying he has to be the one to make things happen all the time, and secondly, of course, it gives the opposition an extra dimension to worry about.
Southampton Actually Have a Decent Line Up of Attackers
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Jason Puncheon, Gaston Ramirez, Adam Lallana and Ricky Lambert—Southampton actually have themselves a pretty decent front quartet.
Ramirez and Lallana can certainly interchange between the central and left-sided roles in the attacking midfielders' areas and should, after some time to accustom themselves to each other, link well in the final third.
Throw into the mix the so far unfulfilled promise of £7 million striker Jay Rodriguez and the exciting, raw potential of James Ward-Prowse and Saints could have themselves a very quality attacking line up in most games.
Good Set Piece Delivery Crucial to Securing Points
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Good players in the final third don't always necessarily translate to good quality chances, though. That is a sad fact of Premiership life where defensive organisation comes as standard and several of the attacking players mentioned lack real top flight experience.
In games where the players chosen in attack fail to combine adequately, Southampton need to find another route to goal—and one of Gaston Ramirez's specialties can come into play.
The left-footer is a superb dead ball expert, whipping in free kicks and corners with pace and precision.
Not only should he add to his own goals tally from set pieces, he should also help put heavy pressure on opponents with his accurate delivery for team mates to attack.
Individual Creativity and Flair
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A bit of magic in the final third goes a long way.
When those stubborn defences are well-drilled and numerous, constant probing and passing—even at a good tempo—might not be enough to get through, and even set pieces can be repelled if the defenders are astute, strong and concentrating.
Luckily for Southampton, Ramirez possess a quick bout of acceleration and great close control.
He is not the same type of dribbler as, say, Jason Puncheon who could burst down the flank and leave a few defenders in his wake, but he can certainly outmaneuver opponents and find space to play a through ball.
Ramirez also has the vision and technique to make those precious seconds of time and space count and to find his target in and around the penalty box.
The Rest of the Squad Should Get a Boost
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A sometimes overlooked but important part of winning games is the team mentality, and Southampton's players—not so long ago facing the likes of Portsmouth, Doncaster Rovers and the like—now have a South American full international in their midst.
This is a big boost to the playing staff. The new star has been convinced that they are good enough for him to join and that he will be helping them to win games and points.
The midfielders behind Ramirez will know they can pass the ball to a teammate who is competent on the ball and can make things happen in the final third, and the forwards know they may have a reliable supply of goalscoring chances to feed on.
Even if Ramirez takes some time to adjust to the league and find his consistency, this transfer appears to be win-win for Southampton in all departments.