Aaron Ramsey‘s decade-long run at Arsenal could be over prematurely.
The 28-year-old Welsh midfielder limped off in the first half with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, and depending on the severity, it could rule him out for the rest of Arsenal’s campaign. Even minor hamstring strains mean at least a three-week layoff, which will certainly keep Ramsey out of Arsenal’s UEFA Europa League semifinal tie against Valencia.
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“He was in a very good moment, he was playing with a big behaviour and commitment to do something important for us,” Arsenal manager Unai Emery said of Ramsey after Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Napoli. “His injury today can give us some matches without him. I don’t know if we’ll see him again before the end of the season.”
Arsenal has less than a month of matches remaining, with the final Premier League match of the season set for May 12 at Burnley, putting Ramsey in a race against time to be fit. If the injury isn’t so severe and Arsenal can manage to defeat Valencia, Ramsey could return in time for the Europa League final on May 29.
If this spells the end of Ramsey’s time at Arsenal – he’s signed a pre-contract to join Juventus this summer – it ends an era which stretches back to some of Arsene Wenger‘s best Arsenal sides in the late-2000s.
Whether for financial reasons – signing teenagers and grooming them is cheap compared to purchasing the transfer rights of established players – or not, Aaron Ramsey joined Arsenal at a time when Wenger was focused on a team-wide youth movement. In Ramsey’s first Premier League start, a late-season 3-0 win at Portsmouth, he started alongside the likes of Niklas Bendtner, Carlos Vela, Denilson, Johan Djourou, and Theo Walcott, who were all 21-or-younger at the time. Ramsey himself was just 18-years-old.
However, in the coming years, he struggled to find a set position. He didn’t develop into a goal-scoring machine like Cesc Fabregas did a few years earlier as a No. 10, leaving Wenger to try him as a right winger, which brought more up and down performances. When trying him as a No. 6 or part of a double-pivot, Ramsey also struggled not always knowing when to attack and when to sit back and defend.
There were plenty of great moments too mixed in. Playing further up as an eight or an attacking midfielder, Ramsey scored 10 Premier League goals during the 2013/2014 season. This year, he’s turned into a wily veteran who can adequately play as a second striker or holding midfielder depending on the situation. He’s scored key goals this year against Tottenham and Napoli, while also providing plenty of assists and midfield cover as Arsenal begins to focus on a new youth movement, with Ramsey ultimately being pushed out in favor of the next Ramsey, as another Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira will likely coming in this summer.
Aaron Ramsey may have never developed into a world beater during his time at Arsenal, but he finishes his time in London with three FA Cups and two Community Shield trophies. Now, moving to Juventus still in his prime, it’s his chance to prove that he’s more than just the hustle and bustle of the Premier League, and that he can succeed not only in a foreign environment, but also in a new league.