OK, we were not expecting that.
Maurizio Sarri has instructed his Chelsea bosses to go and get him Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey for just £30m.
Admittedly, this does sound like the kind of transfer rumour that the British media through together on a quiet Sunday morning, but it is being reported in several places including ESPN.
As a result, we decided to take a look at Aaron Ramsey and see how he would fit into Maurizio Sarri’s 433 approach.
At Napoli, Sarri relied heavily on Marek Hamsik in his system and it would be a safe assumption to think that would be the role that Aaron Ramsey would take if he were to cross over from North London.
Equally, the player in Chelsea’s midfield currently who occupied a shirt for much of last season is Cesc Fabregas so it is worth comparing their data to see whether a move for Aaron Ramsey makes sense or not.
Ramsey vs Hamsik vs Fabregas
Using squawka.com I compared the three players.
The role in Maurizio Sarri’s system is one of a creator in advanced areas but not a player who just plays in an advanced area if that makes sense. The player is expected to cover a lot of ground but then have a strong impact in the final third.
As you can see, Aaron Ramsey created the fewest chances per 90 last season, just 1.37. The most chances per 90 were created by Cesc Fabregas with 3.46 and Marek Hamsik created 1.91.
What does that actually tell us? We could probably guess that Cesc is a more creative player than Aaron Ramsey but then is it all just about chances created?
Look at the average assists per 90. Aaron Ramsey wins this one easily, averaging 0.39 assists per 90 compared to 0.4 per 90 from Hamsik and 0.16 per 90 from Fabregas.
This can mean one of two things – Aaron Ramsey creates a higher quality chance or both Marek Hamsik and Cesc Fabregas were unfortunate to have players around them that could not take their chances – further analysis into this would be required.
Maurizio Sarri likes his teams to play with ‘verticality’ which is, in simple terms, to pass the ball forward quickly.
As you can see above, Cesc Fabregas leads the way with 54.05 forward passes per 90. Chelsea were quite counter-attacking under Antonio Conte which could explain this, outside of Cesc’s natural ability to hit a telling forward pass. Under Sarri at Napoli, Hamsik was also well drilled in playing the ball forward at every opportunity explaining his number of 46.42 per 90. Arsenal under Arsene Wenger were a lot more possessional focused which could explain Aaron Ramsey coming third in this area.
Their total scores are interesting. Aaron Ramsey, according to Squawka, had the worst season of the three players. Marek Hamsik obtained the highest total score of the three.
I would just like to look at one more area before I make a conclusion.
The role requires a certain amount of energy and whilst it is fair to conclude that Cesc delivers numbers in terms of chance creation etc, can he perform the role physically as father time catches up with him?
Unfortunately, Squawka do not provide any data around distance covered etc so I have used Wyscout to look at player heat maps to get an idea of how mobile each of the players are.
These tell an even more interesting story. If you thought of Aaron Ramsey as a player who ‘gets around the pitch a bit’ then your eyes have been misleading you. Cesc Fabregas, although biased more to the right than Hamsik, demonstrated better mobility around the pitch than Aaron Ramsey despite his advancing years.
Therefore, my conclusion is thus.
Although Aaron Ramsey for £30m sounds like a good deal is he actually going to add anything to Chelsea and their new system? Simply, no. When they have players like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley, N’Golo Kante and, of course, Cesc Fabregas (plus many others out on loan) who could play the Hamsik role it would seem like an odd use of funds.