Aaron Ramsey’s remarkable form this season has made him one of the most desirable players in Europe.
Today, as one of the most impressive midfield players on the continent, interest in Ramsey will have expanded beyond these shores. Europe’s biggest clubs will be sure to keep an keen eye on his progress. Most recently, The Daily Mail linked Barcelona with a summer swoop to sign the Gunners’ Welsh wizard.
Unsurprisingly, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is not interested in any prospective sale. As he told the Daily Mirror: “We bought him for £5 million - and I wouldn’t sell him for £50 million!”
Arsenal are in a position where they no longer need to sell off their top talent.
Speaking to Arsenal.com, Wenger confirmed "In recent years we have lost players who we have educated, who we have formed, and we lost them when they became competitive. It was important that we turned that round and showed we are ambitious."
While Wenger is currently unwilling to countenance the possibility of losing Ramsey, Barcelona’s supposed interest does raise an interesting question: How much would the Welshman fetch on the transfer market?
His ability as a goalscoring midfielder is what makes him so invaluable to Arsenal.
Ramsey has eight Premier League goals to date.
Only three players in the Premier League have scored more: Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero and Daniel Sturridge.
All three of those players are forwards. Remarkably, Ramsey has played most of his games from a relatively deep position in central midfield, with a license to roam from box to box.
Few midfielders in England can match Ramsey’s goal tally. The only one who can is Yaya Toure, who has seven league goals thus far.
The comparison between Ramsey and Toure is an interesting one. Both players have played 15 Premier League games, but Ramsey has outperformed the Ivorian in most areas. According to Squawka, Ramsey has an average shot accuracy of 73 percent as opposed to Toure’s 61 percent. The Welshman has also created more chances than his Manchester City counterpart, and won a higher percentage of his one-on-one duels.
Ramsey is particularly dominant when it comes to tackling. He has won 54 percent of his challenges, while Toure has been successful in just 28 percent of his.
All this serves to demonstrate that Ramsey is currently an even more accomplished midfield player than the celebrated Toure.
When Toure moved from Barcelona to Manchester City, the BBC reported his fee at £24 million. However, Toure was five years Ramsey’s senior, and had been deemed surplus to requirements at the Nou Camp. Both those factors impacted his price tag, so it’s safe to assume that signing Ramsey would require a significantly higher sum.
Ramsey’s status as England’s dominant midfielder is reflected on the continent, too. A glance at EuroRivals.net’s list of top scorers in Europe shows that few midfielders in the major leagues can better Ramsey’s goal tally. He is rivalled by the likes of Verona’s Jorginho and Hoffenheim’s Sejad Salihovic, but both of those players are regular penalty takers. Ramsey’s goals have all come from open play.
It’s hard to put a value on a goalscoring midfielder of Ramsey’s quality because you so rarely see them sold. They’re like gold dust. Ramsey’s performances this season have seen him compared to both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, and Liverpool and Chelsea respectively have fought tooth and claw to keep hold of those players. Their contribution is invaluable. If you have a player with the ability to add 20 goals from midfield, you simply don’t sell them.
However, when Chelsea were linked with a move for Gerrard in 2004, The Mirror quoted an asking price of £50 million. Ramsey’s fee would surely be in that ballpark.
If there is any club that has a history of selling stellar midfield players, it’s Arsenal. In the summer of 2011, Arsenal allowed the talented pair of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to leave the club. According to the BBC, Fabregas and Nasri fetched £35 million and £25 million respectively.
However, in both cases, there were mitigating factors that reduced the fee.
With regards to Fabregas, Arsenal were the victim of a situation in which there was only one realistic buyer. Fabregas made it clear he wanted to move to Barcelona and Barcelona alone, making it impossible for the Gunners to instigate any kind of auction for the Catalan playmaker’s signature.
When it comes to the hypothetical sale of Ramsey, there would be no such restrictions. It’s unlikely that Arsenal’s No. 16 would insist on returning to his home-town club of Cardiff City.
In the case of Nasri, Arsenal’s attempts to drive up the Frenchman’s price were impeded by the fact that he had only a year remaining on his contract. That won’t be the case for Ramsey any time soon. He signed a new long-term deal in December 2012, along with the rest of Arsenal’s young British contingent.
Last summer, Ramsey’s Wales team-mate Gareth Bale moved to Real Madrid for a world-record fee of £85 million. Ramsey’s fee would be unlikely to hit those heady heights for one simple reason: Unlike Bale, he has yet to produce this level of performances over more than a single calendar year.
Ramsey has been superb throughout 2013, but we’re yet to discover if it's a prolonged purple patch of the arrival of a genuine star of world football.
Nevertheless, Ramsey’s outstanding performances would certainly lift him above the likes of Fabregas, Nasri and Toure in price. This summer, Arsenal signed Mesut Ozil for £42.5 million. Given the premium on British players, Ramsey’s fee could even surpass that paid for the German.
Arsene Wenger quipped that he wouldn’t sell Ramsey for £50 million, but that is a dilemma he could realistically face come the summer. Right now, that would be the going rate for a player of Ramsey’s accomplishment and potential.