Unai Emery Praises Aaron Ramsey as Arsenal Target Replacements for Midfielder

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 1, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal gives instructions to Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on August 12, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has praised Aaron Ramsey for his attitude despite the fact it looks almost certain the midfielder will leave the club on a free transfer next summer.  

Alex Wood of the Daily Express wrote that Cagliari's Nicolo Barella, Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron and Porto ace Hector Herrera are being eyed as replacements. Emery, however, has seen only positive things from his player despite speculation he will leave when his contract expires in June.

Speaking after Wednesday's 2-1 win over Blackpool in the Carabao Cup, Emery said:

"The most important thing for me with Aaron is, I spoke with him last week, his spirit, his quality, his confidence, his focus to us in training, in matches like today.

"He played for 20 minutes against Crystal Palace, he played with this spirit. He's focused with us, with the training and in every match like today also.

"He is working very well."

Arsenal are understood to have retracted the contract they offered Ramsey earlier this year, but the Wales international hasn't been kicking up a fuss since and has kept a professional manner in the media.

Sky Sports' Lyall Thomas reported on Wednesday that Ramsey has been told in person he won't receive a new contract offer and can find a new club at the end of this season. 

Blogger Tim Stillman recently questioned Arsenal's handling of the situation:

Tim Stillman @Stillberto

Waiting till a few weeks after the transfer deadline has passed to decide we don’t want to give Aaron Ramsey a new contract demonstrates a level of incompetence I’m struggling to parse.

It's led to widespread rumours over who will fill Ramsey's boots and whether the Gunners will look to move in January or wait until he leaves in the summer, when their buying options will be better.

Cagliari's Barella, 21, is fast gaining attention in Serie A and made his Italy debut earlier this year, appearing in their fixtures against Poland and Ukraine in October.

Roma and AC Milan are also interested in the playmaker, according to Wood, and Arsenal would be wise to move sooner rather than later considering his value is on the rise, per the CIES Football Observatory:

CIES Football Obs @CIES_Football

Updated transfer value for new full internationals according to @CIES_Football algorithm: Nicolò Barella 🇮🇹 & @CagliariCalcio, € 25 M, https://t.co/EFCG9LjUZb #Barella #Cagliari https://t.co/HYY9vVcjog

He's not the only appreciating asset among that trio of targets, either, as Almiron looks set to test his quality outside North America following a sensational second season in MLS.

He and Atlanta United team-mate Josef Martinez have both been nominated for 2018 MLS Player of the Year, and Almiron would likely be the cheapest option of the three by some distance, valued at only £11 million.

Porto's Herrera is 29 in April and a much different prospect to the targets, although some experience may be what's required after Lucas Torreira, 22, and Matteo Guendouzi, 19, were signed in the summer.

What's more, Emery has another rising star emerging in Emile Smith-Rowe, who scored the winner against Blackpool and joined Ramsey in an elite club, per Sky Sports Statto:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

In the last 10 years, 4 players have scored in more than 1 game for Arsenal aged 18 or younger: Jack Wilshere Aaron Ramsey Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Emile Smith Rowe https://t.co/8688krADju

Ramsey's exit seems assured, although it looks as though Emery will have no problem working alongside the player before replacing him next year.