The mere mention of Aaron Ramsey’s name is enough to split the Arsenal fan base. Some think he’s one of the Premier League’s best attacking midfielders, others think he’s a liability. But no one can deny his importance to the Arsenal side and his commitment on the pitch.
Leadership has been something Arsenal has lacked since Patrick Vieira’s departure, with only Cesc Fàbregas coming close to filling the void. Per Mertesacker has given it a good go but he’s hanging up his boots at the end of the season, and vice-captain Laurent Koscielny struggles to string two words together to motivate his teammates.
Ramsey, on the other hand, is plenty vocal on the pitch. He’s passionate, he’s motivated, and unlike many of his teammates, he doesn’t shy away on big occasions – as two FA-Cup-winning goals will testify. On top of this, he’s one of the first names on the team sheet and appears to be getting back to his 2013/14 form.
This form and commitment to the team was there to see in Arsenal’s horrific draw at Southampton. Ramsey’s hamstring went as the game drew to a close and, despite playing on one leg, he still managed to get himself into the box and force a good save from Fraser Forster – how many other players would do that for their team when they are desperately chasing a win?
With Ramsey’s contract expiring in 2019 and the club in negotiations over an extension, offering Ramsey the captaincy could sweeten the deal. Over the years, Ramsey has made no secret of the fact he’d love to captain the club and, with 10 years’ service in the summer, he knows the club as well as anyone. It’s also worth noting that Ramsey has shown the loyalty fans really crave.
Age wise, Ramsey fits the bill. He turns 27 this month, meaning he has the maturity to lead the team and – crucially – he has at least another five years of playing at the top level ahead of him.
Since his big breakthrough in 2013, Ramsey has relished responsibility. He’s thrived when he’s been the man Arsenal have looked to for inspiration and his record of one goal every six games is a reasonable return for a central midfielder.
Ramsey does have his weaknesses and at times can be slack in position. His over-adventurous attacking play can also see him ignore his defensive responsibilities, but at the same time, he does cover more ground than any other player at Arsenal.
While Ramsey would be a contentious choice amongst Arsenal fans, you have to ask who else would be worthy of the job? Koscielny hasn’t impressed as a leader and his performances have dropped this season. Xhaka is failing to deliver on a consistent basis. Mustafi remains even more injury-prone than Ramsey.
Unless Arsenal sign a real leader in the very near future, Ramsey remains the most logical man to captain the club. He would relish the role and he would wear the armband with pride.