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Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey had only been on the pitch for 39 seconds in Arsenal’s 5-1 demolition of Fulham at Craven Cottage when he reminded everyone of what he’s about.

Afterwards Arsenal manager Unai Emery described the Wales international as a “very important player at the club”.

Pity for the Gunners then that a contract extension that was offered earlier this year has been withdrawn and Rambo is set to leave, either in January for peanuts, or in the summer for a free.

On the other hand, Wales fans, and maybe even international manager Ryan Giggs, will be quite happy having struggled to understand Arsenal’s treatment of a player they consider to be among the very best in the world.

How sure are people he is on his way? Even his management agency is sticking the boot in in a now deleted series of tweets.

The midfielder has been with the Gunners since his move from Cardiff City in 2008 and he’s been through all the ups and downs with the club.

The 27-year-old has gone from a near career-ending injury to scoring in the FA Cup final and it’s been a long journey for the Welshman in North London.

He has become one of the most reliable players in an inconsistent Gunners side, but has been the butt of many a gooner joke, or a pariah on social media, held responsible for the team’s faltering performances.

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Speaking in the summer, the midfielder said: “I haven’t spoken to him (Unai Emery) at all yet, but I think it’s an exciting time for the club.

“I can’t wait to get back there now.”

It seems strange that Arsenal could be willing to let a player worth more than £30 million walk out the door for free.

But it seems the only thing certain is Ramsey coming to the end of his 10-year (soon to be a 11-year) Arsenal career.

And that’s despite calls for Arsenal to get a deal sorted. Gunners legend Robert Pires told the Evening Standard: “I don’t know what’s happening at the end of the season. Maybe he will extend, maybe not.

“He’s a great player, he’s been at Arsenal for a long time. He scores a lot of goals and is important to the squad.

“Aaron needs to talk with the board and find a good solution for him and for Arsenal.”

So where’s next for the Welsh star?

There have already been rumours linking Ramsey to Real Madrid and Chelsea, but the former seems rather unlikely.

People see Gareth Bale as an influence in getting Ramsey to the Spanish capital, but the truth is that Bale has no influence on the transfer decisions the La Liga giants make.

And it’s unlikely Real deem Aaron Ramsey good enough for their midfield. Isco and Asensio can both play in that attacking midfield role and they take priority over any incomings due to their Spanish nationality, the fact they have come through the ranks and their world-class quality.

The only way Ramsey could get a deal at Real Madrid is if he goes in as a second or third-choice midfielder, something he’s not going to be happy to settle for.

This is a player who deserves first-team football. He’s in the prime of his career and it’s important for Aaron that he ensures he gets that if he is to move on.

Chelsea seems a realistic option, or at least the most realistic of the Premier League top six, with Tottenham ruled out for rivalry reasons, and with Manchester City and Liverpool probably just out of reach with the strength they already have.

Chelsea already have strength in midfield with the excellent Jorginho offering a forward-thinking option in the middle of the park.

However, Ross Barkley is currently the man providing competition for Kovacic and Jorginho, and there’s no doubt that Ramsey is a better player than Barkley.

The England midfielder has struggled with injury in the past and he’s been nowhere near consistent enough to play regularly at the top level.

Ramsey hasn’t had such issues with consistency, regularly providing assists – setting up 42 and scoring 37 Premier League goals to date – and offering a threat when he plays.

Chelsea may see the Welsh international as a better option, offering solid competition to the current first-choice midfield duo.

Beyond Chelsea, it would be a step down for Ramsey to join a club outside the top six and it would be a great shame to see.

However, if Ramsey can’t get guaranteed football – or as close to that as you get in football – and he doesn’t want to leave the Premier League, then he may be better off joining a top eight club, rather than top six.

But let’s not rule out offers from elsewhere in Europe. Ramsey doesn’t necessarily strike me as a player who will back himself on a personal level to move to Europe.

However, he’s certainly good enough to do that if he is willing to take the jump to move to a new country.

Why not challenge yourself at Sevilla or AC Milan if the opportunity arrives? He may not get a chance at the very elite bracket, but there’s no doubt he will get offers from Champions League clubs, if he’s willing to leave the Premier League.

It’s going to be an interesting narrative over the summer. There’s no telling where Ramsey wants to go, where he is willing to go, or indeed who is willing to offer him a deal.

But expect the Welshman to be the main story in the summer if nothing develops over the course of the season.

Big clubs will be fighting for his signature and that’s no surprise to anyone connected with Arsenal or the Welsh national team. This is a top player and Arsenal are fools to let him slip through their fingers, especially after all he’s given the club.

Jamie Kemble is a founder and editor for Inside Wales Sport. He also gets filthy looks from Unai Emery but has no idea why.

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