Oh look, the International breaks are back! If there is one thing I hate about football (other than an Arsenal win of course!), it’s the pointless International breaks.
If FIFA wonder why supporters of Premier League clubs hate international weeks, especially those that are for meaningless friendlies, then they should look at the case of Diego Costa who missed most part of the October out injured. But enough of this blabbering. It’s not like FIFA cares about the players or anything, so instead, it would be worthwhile to grab this opportunity and look at what’s going on in the transfer market.
The hot topic trending in the transfer market right now regarding Chelsea is of Ramires.Should Ramires Leave Chelsea ?? As per various English newspapers including Goal.com:
“The Blues could be prepared to sell the Brazilian midfielder as early as January should a replacement be found, with Real Madrid understood to be among the list of interested clubs.”
Now it would be completely stupid on my part to trust Goal.com, given there history but, there are various newspapers that are going through with the news, which might suggest that there is actually something going on here. So, keeping that in mind, we decided to analyze few of the strengths and weaknesses of the Brazilian, and how it might affect the Blues if they do let the midfielder go. Here’s what we found out:
STAMINA – Since signing from Benfica in the summer of 2010, the Brazilian midfielder has become something of a cult hero amongst the fans. Mention Ramires’ name, and you would immediately imagine him lunging in to nick the ball away from an opponent or embarking on a lung-bursting run at either end for the cause of the team. His standing as a fan favourite has also been boosted by a couple of crucial goals (who can forget that chip in the Champions League semifinal against Barca). As it stands out, there’s no doubt the midfielder would run his heart out for the cause of his team. According to the Brazilian:
“Because of my stamina, I can often overshadow other players in the latter stages of games as that is when they get tired. It’s all about determination and willingness, with these attributes it helps you to concentrate more on the closing part of the match, which is important as it only takes a split second to score or concede a goal.”
No arguing here, as I have never seen this guy tired on the pitch. He is one of our most frequent tacklers, helps defensively and offensively, and frequently covers more distance than any of his team-mates. I would leave you with this quote from Mourinho himself:
“He’s a dangerous guy when attacking and has a good defensive transition. He has a fantastic engine when pressing and that is important to us. The balance between the technical players like Ramires and the athletes is important.”
VERSATILITY AND THE ROLE OF A SHUTTLER – We have players of the quality and versatility of Hazard, Oscar, Fabregas, Remy, etc. You name any of them, and all are capable of playing in different positions.
But, if there’s one guy who can play as a holding midfielder in the 2 man midfield, a box to box midfielder in the 2 man midfield, a shuttler in a 3 man midfield, a winger in the AM position or even a right-back few times; it is Ramires. Basically, he is a manager’s dream when it comes to versatility and playing different positions. Let’s hear straight from the Horse’s mouth again:
“Ramires is very important to us. He is good tactically and can play in multiple positions with the same intensity.”
– Jose Mourinho
Now, it would be difficult to find any player in the world right now who can play in so many positions. The flexibility and options that Ramires brings with his versatility is unparalleled.
With the Brazilian capable of filling in so many positions, you might wonder what his best position is? Well, he is undoubtedly at his best in a midfield three. If it was Makelele who invented the role of a Defensive Midfielder aka “Makelele Role”, the role of a Shuttler has become synonymous with Ramires.
Now you might ask, what is a Shuttler? Or what is the role of a Shuttler? Let me explain that:
Ramires’ deployment by Mourinho is an indication of the style of play we wish to implement. A high pressing game with the ability to win possession in the opposition half and spring quick attacks requires players of Ramires’ particular skillset. The role, often described as a shuttler, allows Ramires to both quickly press the ball when we lose possession but more importantly provide significant cover to any wide player ahead of him, which requires him to be employed in a 3 man midfield. Ramires is a World Class player in the role of a Shuttler, which gives us an extra option against a packed defense or against a side with a physical midfield.
POSITIONING AND LACK OF DISCIPLINE – Jack of all trades, master of none! That might not be the best way to describe the Brazilian but let’s just say that he comes close.
Since the return of Jose Mourinho, Chelsea has mostly gone on with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Last season in the absence of a World Class pivot, we mostly used to roll on with Lampard and Ramires in the Center of the pitch, which used to aggravate our weaknesses against decent sides, while we were unable to create anything worthwhile from the deep.
For the 4-2-3-1 to work, the anchormen need to have an understanding partnership akin to that of the centre-backs. They need to operate close together, lending support, covering each other’s space and should have an agreement as to who goes forward and when, while the other sits back and covers the defensive side of the pitch. You can’t help but think of Fabregas and Matic.
However, If both of the pivot players go forward simultaneously, a team might be vulnerable to a quick counter attack, leaving the defense exposed, similar to what usually happens with Arsenal (but thankfully, Wenger remains stubborn enough to not admit that).
Ramires has the energy and mobility to cover plenty of ground, but, he doesn’t have the necessary discipline to maintain his position, and his tendency to chase the ball all over the pitch often isolates his partner and therefore the defence becomes vulnerable.
To be honest, Ramires did somewhat address this issue, but for that he had to, for the large parts, control his offensive instincts to charge forward and as such, a massive part of his game has largely been made redundant.
Now with the arrival of Cesc Fabregas alongside Nemanja Matic, it is even more difficult for Ramires to get back into starting eleven and start regularly for the side without addressing the said issues.
LACK OF END PRODUCT – Now even the most hardcore fans of Ramires would agree with me when I say that he lacks the end product.
As it is clear that Ramires doesn’t qualify as a holding midfielder for the reasons mentioned in the above point, and with Jose Mourinho rolling on with 4-2-3-1 formation, let’s see what the Brazilian brings to the squad as a Deep Lying Playmaker:
According to whoscored.com, Ramires had just 2 assists and 1 goal in his 29 Premier League starts last season, compare it to that of Cesc Fabregas, who is currently occupying his position, and the Spaniard already has 9 assists and 1 goal in his 11 starts in the Premier League!
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that someone like Cesc Fabregas is a better fit alongside a holding midfielder of Nemanja Matic’s caliber, in the system Jose Mourinho is trying to implement. The role of Matic is to shield our defense while Fabregas has the license to cut open the opposition defense from deep with his incisive passing, which Ramires fatally lacks. There were some questions and doubts regarding the defensive qualities of Cesc Fabregas in the pivot role, but the Spaniard has put it all to rest, thus making life more difficult for Ramires and demoting him to more of a fringe player rather than a regular starter.
Now, it would be unwise for me to comment as to whether we should keep Ramires or sell him in January transfer window and it all depends on what Mourinho thinks would be better for Chelsea in the long run. Common sense tells us he could be good business with Real Madrid since he is obviously rough around the edges.
Besides, given the reports circulating in the press, it does feel that Mourinho is interested in offloading the Brazilian. On the basis of above-mentioned points and views, you can decide for yourself whether it would be wise to keep him or let him go. Do comment your views here, as we bring you some of his possible replacements in the next article.
Edited By: Ojas Tripathi