Two important goals against Norwich City and Hull City in the past two weeks cemented Aaron Ramsey's importance to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, and it surely underlined why they must hold on to their Welsh star in order to progress next season.
In a phenomenal turn of fortunes, this season, Ramsey has seemingly realised the great potential he exuded upon signing from Cardiff City for £5 million in 2008, thwarting Everton and Manchester United in the process, as per BBC Sport.
On the blue side of Merseyside, Roberto Martinez's Toffees may be coping without "Rambo," but one can only imagine how Louis van Gaal—new manager of the latter—would love to have a prodigious, combative young talent such as Ramsey at his disposal as he begins his tenure at Old Trafford.
Wenger finds himself in the fortunate position of being able to mould his side around this hugely talented 23-year-old to forge onwards for seasons to come.
If his form keeps up, holding on to him may prove harder than once imagined, but Wenger should do everything in his power to do so.
Return to Form
Speaking to BBC Sport, ex-Gunners forward and former Wales international John Hartson expressed his surprise at the rate with which Ramsey has developed this season:
"Let's not forget 18 months ago at Arsenal he was facing a bit of a backlash from the home fans. They were thinking, 'he's not really stepped up his performances'. But he's found something. He's gone up a gear and he's so influential to Arsenal now and the way they play."
This influence is something that is becoming typical of the Welshman's game, and could be seen clearly following his return from injury to Premier League action at the beginning of April.
Featuring in five games—a 3-0 loss away to Everton, and wins against West Ham, West Brom, Hull City and Norwich City—Ramsey completed 269 minutes, as Wenger continued to utilise him sparingly following a lengthy layoff.
However, in that short stretch, Ramsey scored two goals—including a stunning volley against Norwich City—as he eased comfortably back into the top form he showed all season.
Over those 269 minutes, Ramsey also made two assists, and contributed to the defensive effort by making nine successful tackles, as per Squawka.
Only Olivier Giroud (3) and Lukas Podolski (4) scored more goals in this period; only Santi Cazorla (4) made more assists; only Mikel Arteta (16) and Bacary Sagna (10) made more tackles.
Each of these players featured around twice as much as Ramsey over this period.
Then came the pivotal FA Cup final appearance, wherein which Ramsey scored the winning goal deep into extra time, sealing Arsenal's first silverware in nine years, and possibly securing the future of his manager.
Ramsey's form has been something which Wenger could cling on to this season as his position became increasingly fraught, and one which he should capitalise on as he builds in seasons to come.
Naturally, following such a remarkable 2013/14 season—in which Ramsey scored 10 goals in 23 league appearances, made eight assists, and proved his credentials by often carrying his team through difficult situations—interest in the Welshman this summer will likely be cause for much speculation.
Hartson, continued by predicted that Ramsey "will be linked to 10 clubs in the summer."
It didn't take long for the first report to surface, with the Daily Mirror linking the 23-year-old with a move to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.
Ramsey would no doubt suit a move to Pep Guardiola's Bavarian giants, and he would likely adapt well into his system and has also shown he can flourish in the Champions League.
Adrian Durham, writing for the Daily Mail, suggests that Ramsey's level is now above that of Arsenal, and he should look to follow his compatriot Gareth Bale with a move to one of Europe's genuine elite:
Bale's ability made him the star at Tottenham but living with and flourishing alongside the elite at Real Madrid this season has confirmed Bale's world class talent...It's time for Ramsey to move on too, and if Bayern Munich get serious with their interest, it's a no-brainer...the truth is Arsenal fans don't deserve him.
On the contrary, however, Wenger's belief and encouragement throughout Ramsey's injury troubles and into his realising of potential proves that Arsenal do deserve such a talent.
The Frenchman has his side playing a similar football to that of Bayern, they have a top-quality centre-back partnership in Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, a prodigious deep-lying playmaker in Jack Wilshere, and myriad attacking talents in form of Cazorla, Podolski and Mesut Ozil, for example.
Arsenal currently lack a dominant defensive midfielder and a world-class striker—to name but two—but Wenger should look to secure Ramsey as his side's lynchpin and build on that as he looks to challenge once more next season.
As Hartson suggests, there is little reason to believe that Ramsey will be looking to leave Arsenal in the near future.
I can't see him leaving Arsenal in the foreseeable future. He's settled and loves the club. He's a top player and Arsenal don't want to lose him. He may feel 'I've had one outstanding season and Arsenal stuck by me when I wasn't playing that great a few years ago'.
As Ramsey's fellow Welshman attests, the faith that Wenger has shown in Ramsey since 2008—through potentially destructive injury and poor form—should be repaid for seasons to come.
Elsewhere, former Wales goalkeeper Neville Southall told BBC Sport that Ramsey can be a "great" player if his development continues.
The former Everton man stressed the importance of remaining consistent playing for Arsenal:
In football terms he's still very, very young and in [Arsene] Wenger he's got a really good manager who knows the game. I think he's come on leaps and bounds and just needs to play continual football for a while.
Durham's allusion to Bale's move to Real Madrid is an unfair comparison—by all accounts the ex-Spurs man had dreamt of playing for the Galacticos for years—and Ramsey's loyalty remains with Arsenal.
As per Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph, Ramsey looks forward to "winning things" with the Gunners next season, and this is an ambition which Wenger should cease and build upon.
The Frenchman's Welsh star can be the heart of this Arsenal side for many years yet.
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