The most curious thing about Aaron Ramsey’s much-discussed contract drama is the way in which the club appears to have torpedoed the deal, an unusual move in the Gunners’ recent history.
Over a period of many years, we have seen marquee players such as Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri, Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Cesc Fabregas and others run down their deals and then spurn offers made by Arsenal in favour of more lucrative packages elsewhere.
It has been the players in control of the negotiations, the players running the show and, ultimately, the players saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
This time, however, after weeks and months of wrangling, with the Welshman seemingly in the box seat, the club, if the reports are to be believed, withdrew the contract offer from under his nose.
The question is, why?
Were the terms simply too expensive for the club to justify? If so, who made the offer originally and who then pulled it?
Did the manager decide, with the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe, Matteo Guendouzi, Reiss Nelson and others, that he simply didn’t need to spend out on a bumper new wage deal for a player who, while excellent, was by no means irreplaceable?
Was it a case of simple annoyance at a player whose agent was demanding and leaking too much during the course of negotiations?
Unless more information is leaked out, it is unlikely the real reason will come out in the short term, particularly as nobody has yet ruled out going back to the table.
If a deal can’t be done, though, and the decision is simply to sell Ramsey in January, or allow him to leave free in the summer, somebody will need to come out and explain just why this situation was allowed to play out as it did.
If naught else, it is a remarkable departure from protocol from the club which has for so long kept its powder dry in these situations, perhaps more in hope of doing a deal and keeping the player happy rather than a desire to seem stoic.
Is it a coincidence that this situation has arisen merely weeks after Raul Sanlehi took the reigns fro Ivan Gazidis, and months after the departure of Arsene Wenger?
Has the changing of the guard also signalled a changing of tack from the club, a more aggressive stance with players who, as Wenger sagely predicted not so long ago, push their deals into the final year in an effort to drive up the renewal terms?
I don’t think Ramsey is irreplaceable – there aren’t many in the game who are worthy of the tag. This same situation last season would have seemed a much bigger blow but the way Unai Emery is going about structuring and rebuilding his side, what’s to say the Welshman had an integral part in that future anyway?
Don’t get me wrong, however, I would rather Ramsey stayed and signed a new deal than leave. He has been at the club for more than a decade, through thick and thin, and how many players can say they have done that?
We mustn’t get too dewy-eyed, of course, but leaving Cardiff City aside, Arsenal is Ramsey’s club and he has been a good servant. Let’s not forget, he has scored two crucial cup final goals for this club, helping sate a hunger for trophies that went unsatisfied for so many years.
Much and more has been said about the situation so far and there is more to be said before this saga is resolved for good and all. The best we can hope from here is that, if he remains part of Emery’s plans, Ramsey gives his all and the fans stay behind him.
From the club’s perspective, if a more aggressive approach is how it sees the future, let’s be consistent with it and not allow these dramas too develop season after season.