It was announced yesterday that Aaron Ramsey had signed a bumper new contract at Arsenal, only 15 months after initially signing a new deal at the Emirates. Ramsey has been in scintillating form for the Gunners in the first half of the season, scoring eight goals in addition to six assists in his 18 Premier League matches, along with many man of the match displays.
This season was proving to be Ramsey’s breakout year until he was unfortunately struck down by injury during the Christmas period. That injury has actually robbed him of the chance to continue his impressive form and really cement himself as a top midfielder in the league. Until now, Ramsey has always been potential — talk of what could be and when that might happen. His new contract, which makes him one of the highest earners at the club, suggests manger Arsene Wenger is satisfied enough to assume Ramsey is now reaching his potential. But is 18 games really enough to say ‘potential fulfilled’?
You could be excused for wanting a little more. That’s not to doubt the player but just to say that the the form Ramsey has been in should last longer than 18 games to really, genuinely prove that he is now indeed about to fulfill his potential. Had Ramsey actually enjoyed a good second half to this season and then continued his form at the beginning of next season, then you could say he really does look the real deal, fully deserves a new contract and is fulfilling his potential. But 18 games? What kind of message does that send out? Play well for half a season and we’ll bump your wage up immediately — no questions asked.
Of course, it’s not Ramsey’s fault he got injured, but you would still surely like to see a longer period of form from any player before committing to such a big deal — within Arsenal’s current pay structure — for at least the next four years. The Premier League history books are littered with players who had an amazing season never to reach those same heights again. And even more players have shined for about half a season only to fade back to their normal level afterwards.
By no means would you say Ramsey will do that. But with only 18 games to judge his form, you couldn’t possibly rule it out either. It’s a gamble — and a gamble Arsenal didn’t need to take. Ramsey still had multiple years left on his contract which would have given the club the time necessary to assess what level he was at and how important he was or wasn’t becoming to the team over a longer period of time. They only needed to wait about eight months to really see — not a long time. Now, doing things this way, Arsenal are stuck with a player paid as one of their top earners who has only performed at such a level for just 18 games and possibly may not maintain that level in the future. It’s not a great foundation to act upon. What was the rush? They just didn’t need to do it.
Ramsey could well continue his fantastic form in the final quarter of the season when he finally does get fit and then continue the form into next year. Then he would rightfully be due a new deal. Then you could deservedly award him one. Of course, now, if that does happen, he will already have one. Let’s hope for Arsenal’s sake he does continue to justify it — although if he does, he may just feel he’s due another.