Aaron Ramsey was shoehorned into a deep-lying role at the for most of his career, but he should find his feet in a more advanced role with Juventus.
After running down his contract, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey will join Juventus at the end of the season on a free transfer. The 28-year-old has gone in and out of the Gunners’ first XI throughout his time with the club, causing fans to question if Juve made a smart decision when they made him the second-highest earner at the club with a £400,000-per-week contract.
Ramsey played in a box-to-box role for most of his career under Arsene Wenger, and while it worked when the team played attacking football, opponents exposed him when he began to move too far forward, leaving his partner in the double pivot of Wenger’s 4-2-3-1 formation alone in the center of the park.
Now, under the more conservative Unai Emery, Ramsey has moved into a more attacking role, playing in the front three of a 3-4-3, the attacking midfield of a 4-2-3-1, and the No. 10 in a 4-4-2 diamond. He plays with a clear sense of freedom in those roles with a combination of Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, and Matteo Guendouzi between him and the back line.
The defensive emphasis of Serie A will benefit Ramsey since Massimiliano Allegri will use place him in a role similar to the one Emery has put him in. Juventus’ array of deep-lying midfielders will keep Ramsey out of that position, so he will compete for time as the primary attacking midfielder in Allegri’s 4-3-3.
Ramsey will join up with a group of players more talented than he has ever played with, and his prolific assist rate should go even higher because of it. The Welshman will play behind a front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, and Mario Mandzukic with the likes of Douglas Costa, Federico Bernardeschi, and Juan Cuadrado coming off the bench.
How does he fit in at Juventus?
Max Allegri has insisted on having Ronaldo, Mandzukic, and Dybala rotate their positions in attack throughout the match, and that idea hurt them in their recent Champions League encounter with Atletico Madrid.
Allegri should put Ronaldo on the left, Dybala on the right, and Mandzukic as the target man in the center. Ramsey loves to split the channel with a through ball to supporting wingers, so Dybala and Ronaldo will grow to love his incisive passes. Additionally, Rambo loves to score a goal, so he could play off of Mandzukic when he decides to hold the ball up.
The Welsh playmaker has six assists in the Premier League, tied for ninth-most in the league, and most of the players ahead of him have played twice as many minutes this season. He has fallen out of favor at the club due to his contract situation, but he has managed to take the chances presented to him to find a teammate for a goal.
Due to inconsistency because of his own poor play, injuries, and positional confusion, Ramsey could never fully maintain a place in the Arsenal first XI. He has never started in more than 30 league games in a season and has not scored more than 10 goals since 2013/14 and has never reached double digits in assists. He can disappear from games on occasions where he does not have the ball often and does not make threatening runs, and he has never replicated the form he showed in the first half of the 2013/14 season for an extended period of time.
That said, surrounding a player with teammates he can trust can do a lot for that player’s confidence. He will have two rocks behind him in central defense no matter what combination of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli, Daniele Rugani, and Medhi Benatia play in any given match. He will have someone capable of making a positive impact at every position, and with that knowledge, he should go on to play with more freedom than he has ever played with before.
Aaron Ramsey’s huge contract is certainly a risk for an injury-prone player who could never cement himself in Arsenal’s first team, but when he feels confident, he makes his teammates better with his movement and passing. Juventus and Allegri have enough talent to bring the best out of him every week, so time will tell if he feels up to the challenge.
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