Gaston Ramirez's opportunities to make a true impact for Southampton this season have been few and far between, which makes the injury suffered by the Uruguayan spark plug against Sunderland on Jan. 18 all the more disappointing for both Ramirez and Saints fans.
According to the Premier League on Twitter, Ramirez was carried off on a stretcher during the 87th minute of Southampton's 2-2 draw against Sunderland:
SUB Delay at the Stadium of Light as both Gaston Ramirez & Dejan Lovren are carried off on stretchers. Ward-Prowse & Yoshida come on #SUNSOU— Premier League (@premierleague) January 18, 2014
Ramirez had replaced Adam Lallana in the 74th minute, but his time on the pitch was short-lived. Although Southampton have yet to confirm, it appeared as though Ramirez injured his ankle on a reckless challenge from Sunderland defender Wes Brown.
As seen in this photo courtesy of FootballFanCast.com, Ramirez's ankle bent in an awkward manner:
Ramirez's ankle at a nasty angle from the injury-causing challenge pic.twitter.com/M4Z3GwNmgf— FootballFanCast.com (@FootballFanCast) January 18, 2014
There was no card or free-kick issued on the play, but Ramirez's ankle seemed to take the brunt of the contact rather than the ball.
The injury comes at an awful time for Ramirez and the Saints, with transfer rumors running rampant. According to Football Italia, Ramirez is interested in returning to Italy after playing two seasons with Bologna in Serie A.
"Gaston certainly wants to come back to Italy," agent Pablo Betancourt told Calciomercato.com. There are two Italian clubs who want him, but the lad also has offers from abroad, as Roberto Mancini's Galatasaray and Crystal Palace are interested."
With just three starts for Southampton since August, it stands to reason that the Saints would have honored Ramirez's desire to leave by selling him, although that is very much up in the air now.
Ramirez simply hasn't been a great fit at Southampton since coming over in 2012, and ESPN's Kristan Heneage can see why:
Watching #SaintsFC today you see why Gaston Ramirez hasn't settled. Far too individual to fit into a side with a strong team ethic.— Kristan Heneage (@KHeneage) January 18, 2014
There is no doubt that Ramirez's future was in question entering the match against Sunderland, but things are even murkier now that his health is up in the air as well.
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