As the David de Gea saga rumbles on, the narrative has taken a further twist amidst reports that Manchester United are keen on having Sergio Ramos included in any deal for the goalkeeper.
Centre-back is a position Louis van Gaal is keen on strengthening this summer and, given how intent Real Madrid appear to be on landing De Gea, United, to an extent, may hold the cards in any potential deal.
United’s interest in a player of Ramos’ ilk comes as little surprise. Seen as a problematic area within the squad, the capture of one of football’s most highly-revered defenders would send a strong message of intent to United’s rivals.
United are keen to add quality additions to their squad ahead of their return to the Champions League and are well priced to win the tournament.
Of course, there are reports that Ramos is simply haggling for a better contract at the Bernabeu. At 29 years of age, the Spain international will understandably be looking for one final big money contract before entering the autumn of his footballing years.
Contracted to Los Blancos until 2017, Ramos has, to date, unsuccessfully negotiated a new deal in the Spanish capital and some suggest he may use United’s interest as leverage to help extend his stay at the Bernabeu. Nonetheless, If United can convince Madrid to part ways with the centre-back and the Premier League giants are prepared to meet Ramos’ demands, they will have in their possession one of the finest defenders in the game.
The 29-year-old’s WhoScored.com rating (7.42) ranked among the top-15 players in La Liga last season. That figure may not have been his best over the last six league seasons – that coming in the 2009/10 campaign (7.70) – but he remains remarkably consistent according to WhoScored.com’s unique rating system, with his rating not dropping below 7.36 over that period.
As an experienced leader at the heart of the backline, United are unlikely to get any better in today’s market.
What’s notable is his pass success rate this season (90%) being his best in La Liga over the last 6 campaigns, with Ramos able to consistently pick out a team-mate with consummate ease. An average of 60.2 passes per game was also the second highest since the 2009/10 season to the present day. Not only has Ramos improved this aspect of his game since signing for Madrid, but it’s a facet that would surely suit Van Gaal and his patient build up approach.
United averaged more possession (61.1%) than any other team in the Premier League last season and a defender to instigate attacks from the back is a necessity for their manager. In Ramos, the team would have just that. A statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘passing’ reinforces the centre-back’s ability to play the ball out from the back and, given the creative midfield talents at Van Gaal’s disposal, this asset would help bring out the best in these performers in particular.
An average of 3.9 clearances per game last season was relatively low for a centre-back, but if anything, this highlights Ramos’ composure on the ball. He is clearly capable of being in the right place at the right time to deny the opposition, but rather than aimlessly punt the ball away to safety, Ramos adopts a more measured approach to defending. This calming influence in the backline would only benefit a United defence that, on numerous occasions last season, panicked when put under pressure by the opposition.
He’s more than capable of bringing the ball out from the back and, importantly, carries a goal threat for his side, netting 22 times in his last six league seasons. Despite approaching 30, Ramos evidently has not declined, but the question here is whether he is worth the reported £40m, given his age. At this stage of any player’s career, adjusting to the rigours of a new league may prove that much harder, no matter how capable a performer they are.
On paper, Ramos would be a perfect addition to the United backline. The £40m may be a little steep, but for a centre-back at the peak of his career, and given next season will be United’s return to the Champions League, his experience could be vital in what is expected to be a revamped squad at Old Trafford. In United’s attempts to re-establish themselves as England’s dominant team, Ramos would be a fine foundation to build upon.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings. You can follow all the scores, statistics, live player and team ratings with their new free-to-download app, available on both iOS and Android.