So. Aaron Ramsdale. I’ve not been one of his most vocal supporters since signing (I’ve not raved about him but that’s not to say I’ve been negative on him either) but can't help but feel a little conflicted regarding his transfer to Arsenal.
There is a huge part of me that struggles to not mention or judge based on the first part of last season. It felt that for a very long run of games he seemed to get nowhere near any of the goals we conceded. Now you could (and I did) argue that in the premier league players are more clinical and everything ends up top bins or is a worldie etc. etc. but as the season moved forward it became very apparent that this just wasn’t the case.
There were obviously contributing factors to his slow start, teammate form and mistakes, injuries and inconsistent defensive partnerships and also a slight change in mentality where Sheffield United for some reason seems to invite more pressure resulting in more efforts at goal… but in hindsight we did not have a strong enough squad and didn’t have the luxury of time to bed in a young but obviously talented goalkeeper, we needed a more experienced guy that would win us points from day one (but doesn’t every team).
In my opinion Rammers needs the opportunity and environment to prove himself consistently over the course of a season (or 2). Probably to himself as much as the outside, media etc. You can have all the faith in your own ability in the world and so can your coaches but until you’ve been there and done it, what’s in your head doesn’t count for much.
…which is where the conflict niggles in the back of my mind.
- Would I have liked him to stay? Yes.
- Do I think we should've kept him? Probably not considering the circumstances.
On one hand it still felt a bit of a risk going into the season (hopefully looking at promotion) without being confident he wouldn’t drop form again or actually not be as ready as we all thought/ hoped.
But then on the other side of the coin you can't help but think there was a real chance that if we had somehow managed to keep hold of him we could have ended up with the real deal on our hands.
He really started to show signs in the last few months of last season just how good a keeper he is… (it felt he'd arrived away at Everton where he really contributed to us winning the points). You also don’t get into the full England squad at 23 years of age (at a major finals) if you haven’t got the game.
He’s blatantly a good professional with the right attitude, bags of potential, well thought of within the game and I’ve no doubt if his career is managed properly and given the right opportunities he will become a top top keeper.
Realistically though, as soon as Arsenal were seriously interested it was always going to be a case of how much can we squeeze out of them. One of the ‘traditional’ big 6 comes in, offers 20+ mill for any player in the championship, they're gone.
That fact will not stop his sale fuelling the narrative of ‘should’ve shown some ambition’ and ‘should’ve kept him and still spent’ and although in an ideal world we wouldn’t have needed to sell and he wouldn’t have wanted to go... that’s just not how football works especially at this level, even when bankrolled by billionaires (which we're not). The books need balancing.
So 24+ million? Is it a good deal? Granted he may have been worth more next year ‘if’ we had managed to secure promotion but based on our start to the season, it’s clear that without reinforcements (that his sale will ‘hopefully’ fund) that wouldn't be happening. In all likelihood keeping him would've resulted in a average season, he’d have been a year further into his contract and if clubs were still interested would've had a much lower sale ticket.
Basically provided we bring in a replacement it was just too good a deal to turn down.
I genuinely think the best thing Arsenal could do would be to loan him to a top end championship club (that 'should' be defending less) so in theory replicate where they want him to probably be next season… needing to make less saves but the important ones that win points (and hopefully keep 15-20 clean sheets whilst doing so). Plus would help stop the ‘he’s been relegated 3 times’ narrative that a lot of the media is peddling.
Really likeable guy for which I can’t stress enough I really want to do well. All the best Aaron go smash it… 👊🏼👍🏼