Gaston Ramirez: Everything Southampton Need To Know About The €19m Man

Incredibly, Ramirez has ignored Spurs & Liverpool to move to the South Coast. Here's why he is going to be an absolute superstar...
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Everything Southampton Need To Know About Gaston Ramirez...

The recent success of Uruguay at international level over recent years has certainly caught the eye: Oscar Tarbarez’s side have won plenty of plaudits for their effective, attacking football, culminating in their victory at the 2011 Copa America tournament. The likes of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani are undoubtedly recognised world-class players, and there are a crop of talented youngsters coming through hoping to emulate the success of their compatriots, such as Sebastian Coates, Abel Hernandez and Bologna’s Gaston Ramirez, the latter of whom has long been linked with Liverpool, and reports this weekend have suggested that the Reds have made an official bid for the young attacking midfielder.

Having joined Bologna in 2010 in a €2.5m move from Penarol, Ramirez has really gone on to establish himself as one of the hottest young talents in Europe. He showed great promise during his debut season in Italy, yet he failed to become a regular starter under then Bologna coach Alberto Malesani, making 17 starts (and 10 substitute appearances) in all competitions, whilst scoring 7 goals – a very respectable return given his limited playing time. It wasn’t until Stefano Piolo took over as head coach in October 2011 that he really started to flourish and consistently show his talents, scoring 8 goals in 28 starts. When Piolo took over, the Rossoblu were bottom of the table without a win all season, yet he led them to a 9th place finish in Serie A; a remarkable achievement for a cash-strapped club whose realistic ambitions are simply to stay in the division.

It is easy to see why Ramirez is coveted by a whole host of Europe’s elite; he has everything to his game. His elegant playing style is a joy to watch, his intelligence when in possession belies his age, and his all round technique is fantastic. In a world where the diminutive playmaker is now all the rage, at 6ft Ramirez is far more physically imposing, which would stand him in good stead should he move to a more laboriously demanding league. Whilst the success rate of players moving from Italy to England over the past decade is far from impressive, those that do go on to impress are generally not players who have come up through the Italian youth system, but rather made their name in Serie A before moving to the Premiership.

His elegant playing style is a joy to watch, his intelligence when in possession belies his age, and his all round technique is fantastic.

How Ramirez would potentially fit in at Liverpool is unclear, largely down to not knowing what system Brendan Rodgers will use heading in to next season. Should be decide to persist with the 4-3-3 system that brought him great success with Swansea, then it is likely Ramirez would alternate between playing as the most attacking of the midfield three, or as the wide forward on other side of the striker. At Bologna he started off playing wide left, but under Piolo has done his best work playing either as a trequartista or on the right of midfield where he can cut inside on his left foot. On the one hand, you can praise his versatility and ability to perform in a variety of roles, yet on the other hand you can question whether his inability to hold down one single position means that neither the player nor coach really know what his Ramirez’s most effective position is.

There is the sense that Ramirez needs to improve on his off-the-ball work – although that is a criticism that can be levelled at many young players, particularly those that play in attacking positions. He is often the man who is sacrificed in the latter stages of games when a more defensive player is needed to see the game out, and, thus, he rarely finishes 90 minutes (he completed the full game only 7 times in the 10/11 season, and 9 times last season). Brendan Rodgers hasalways stressed the importance of working hard when not in possession to win the ball back, and in the fast-paced Premiership where players have often been picked for their work ethic and tactical discipline (James Milner, Park Ji Sung and Dirk Kuyt immediately spring to mind), any disinclination to contribute to the defensive side of the game will do nothing to endear him to manager and fans alike.

The Reds are unlikely to be alone in attempting the lure Ramirez to Anfield, and the recent Gylfi Sigurdsson saga – the Icelandic midfielder had looked set to be reunited with Brendan Rodgers at Anfield, but now appears to be on the verge of a move to rivals Tottenham, who offered him a more lucrative contract – has proven that, for all their illustrious history, money talks in the modern game, and, with no Champions League football to offer, Liverpool are going to have to really splash the cash if they want to sign players of Ramirez’s calibre. Whether the club’s American owners will do that, however, after spending the best part of £80m on homegrown talent last season with little return, remains to be seen.

With no Champion's League football to offer, Liverpool are going to have to really splash the cash if they want to sign players of Ramirez’s calibre

At 21, there is no rush for Ramirez or Bologna to facilitate a big-money move away from the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara. With Marco Di Vaio, the club’s talismanic veteran striker, having moved to the MLS, the young Uruguayan would likely become the centrepiece of the side should he stay, and another impressive season would drive his price – and interest in the player himself - right up. Any interested parties would also be best served to complete a deal for Ramirez before the upcoming 2012 Olympics, as an impressive showing in London – where Uruguay are amongst the favourites - will only add an extra couple of million euros on to his already substantial price tag.

Gaston Ramirez possesses all the tools to follow in the footsteps of his fellow countryman and be successful at Anfield. He would certainly add creativity and goals from midfield that were sorely lacking from the Reds last season and, whilst he would not come cheap, he fits FSG’s transfer policy of buying younger players with potential before they develop in to world-class stars. Liverpool fans should be hoping, then, that a move for the Fray Bentos born attacker is more than just a pie in the sky.

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