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Manchester United and Juventus will reportedly go head-to-head in a summer duel for the signature of Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey.
According to The Sun (h/t TalkSport), United manager Jose Mourinho has told the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward the Welshman is his ideal replacement for Paul Pogba, who has been largely disappointing since completing an £89 million return to United from Juve in 2016.
Ramsey could be available at a cut-price fee, as his deal with Arsenal expires at the end of next season. The north London club may be willing to sell while he still has value, as they did when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to Liverpool in the 2017 summer transfer window with a year left on his contract.
Ramsey’s contract negotiations have been a topic of debate at the Emirates Stadium, although in mid-March, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger hinted the Gunners will look to extend their star’s stay, per Goal:
Arsene Wenger remains optimistic Aaron Ramsey will sign a new contract at Arsenal. 📝🔴 https://t.co/blyHl8NBRT
Around the same time, the Wales international was asked by BT Sport whether he had any news on a prospective contract renewal, but he couldn’t offer much of an update (h/t Andy Ha of Football.London): “Nothing to comment on that. I think they’ve been busy trying to tie up other contracts.”
Mesut Ozil signed a new contract soon after the January transfer window, while Jack Wilshere’s deal will run out in June, so perhaps they’ve taken priority.
Some might argue this shouldn’t be the case, though. Now in his 10th year in north London, Ramsey has racked up 322 appearances for Arsenal and remains a key part of their squad, offering arguably their most rounded skill set in midfield.
Charles Watts of Football.London agreed there are perhaps others in the team who would deserve an exit before considering allowing Ramsey to leave for pastures new:
Charles Watts @charles_watts
@Oscarkhali @arseblagger @nws13 @Alfieafc_14 Not really up for getting in to all this tonight, but have to call you up on Ramsey. He’s a superb midfielder, Arsenal so lucky to have him. Xhaka on the other hand, sell in the summer and move on.
Mourinho will be doing his bit to show the Welshman is wanted more at Old Trafford this time around, particularly with record signing Pogba not hitting expectations and being dropped from the XI at points this season.
Ramsey, meanwhile, has enjoyed good form for the Gunners, scoring once and assisting two other goals in Arsenal’s 5-1 aggregate win over AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League round of 16:
UEFA Europa League @EuropaLeague
Aaron Ramsey has now scored 4 goals in his last 4 games for Arsenal in all competitions. 💪
The playmaker was linked with the Red Devils back in 2008, when he was still at Cardiff City and Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge at Old Trafford, but Arsenal won the race for his services.
He spoke to Sky Sports’ Patrick Davison in November 2016 and revealed why he opted for north London over a switch to Manchester:
“I went up there to see the facilities and I went to see Arsene Wenger.
“He did a lot to try and get me to this club. As a 17-year-old, flying out on a private jet to his hotel (in Switzerland for Euro 2008) was surreal, but I think I made the right decision.
“I just felt a bit more wanted by Arsenal and by the boss.”
The Sun report said Ramsey could be sold for £35 million, which might be seen as a bargain sum to United, but Juve may be more wise about splashing funds on a Briton making what would be a rare jump to Serie A.
English exports of an international standard from the Premier League are rare, and last season’s UEFA Champions League finalists may lose out to United as a preferred destination as a result.
Ramsey’s future remains up in the air as long as uncertainty dictates his contract situation at Arsenal, although United and Juve remain ready to pounce if he moves within their reach.