It’s the question we have all been asking ourselves over the last few months – were Arsenal right to let Aaron Ramsey run down his contract?
Well, yesterday’s announcement that the Welshman had signed a £400,000 a week deal with Juventus allowed us all to revisit it once more, only this time with a different view of things.
Let me preface this by saying that I like Ramsey as a player. He has proven himself a class act over the years despite a difficult start to his Arsenal career and has twice netted cup final goals that have cemented his place in the club’s history.
He has never complained, never sulked, never lashed out – he has given 11 years of his life to Arsenal Football Club and proven an influential figure on and off the field.
But is he a player the club could afford to pay £400,000 a week? Even £300,000 a week? In my opinion, no.
Given that the Italian champions won’t have to part with a penny to acquire his talents, I accept they can afford to pay Ramsey astronomical wages, and I accept also that it is very unlikely the deal he came close to signing with Arsenal offered anywhere near that sort of money.
But given that the deal was taken off the table, and the BBC’s David Ornstein has been clear that part of the reason for that was the amount of money on offer, we can safely assume it was a substantial package.
Was it on a par with Mesut Ozil’s £350,000? You couldn’t blame Ramsey for trying but, for me, that is simply too much money.
It’s been made clear that Stan Kroenke won’t be parting with a penny of his money to help the club in the transfer market and so, to that end, we have to be self-sustaining. That means being prudent with our investments, searching for bargains, running a lean squad, and only spending the money where we can be sure of maximal returns.
Can we expect that by committing millions of pounds over three or four years on Ramsey?
Perhaps, but the smarter, wiser investment would be in two or three players for the same money, who play in a way that suits the manager, who will improve steadily, who are versatile, and much better placed to help the club move forward.
While Ramsey brings goals, assists, tenacity and energy, his trajectory from here, at 28-years-old, is a downward one. He is unlikely to improve further. That takes nothing away from the player he is now, but will he still be that player in two years, particularly with his injury record?
For all that, in simple economic terms, we simply can’t afford to carry two players on £300,000 a week. It isn’t sustainable. If we harbour ambitions of making our way back into the Champions League, our resources must be used as wisely as is possible.
So while Aaron Ramsey on £120-150,000 a week is one thing, Ramsey on £300,000 a week is quite another. That may mean we have to reassess who we are as a club and how we position ourselves in future against the likes of the Manchester Citys and PSGs of this world, but that’s our reality.
Was letting Aaron Ramsey leave on a free the best decision ever made? No. But was it the right one for the club? I believe it was.