Morning all. A quick Friday blog for you.
The main story this morning is the fact that Aaron Ramsdale has put pen to paper on a new contract. It had been mooted for a little while, so it’s not a shock announcement or anything, but to get another key player tied down is good news. Mikel Arteta says:
We’re all so happy that Aaron has signed a new contract. The way Aaron has developed over the past two years has been exceptional, with his performances, contribution and overall adaptation to the club.
It’s great that we’re continuing to build our future with our biggest talents in our young squad. We’re all looking forward to enjoying many more years of Aaron the player and the person at the football club.
I thought it was quite interesting that the theme of the #content that accompanies the announcement was based around some of the reaction to his signing in the summer of 2021. There was scepticism, no doubt about it, and concerns over the fee we might have to pay. I guess it’s worth remembering that it was that summer, when we brought in Ramsdale, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Odegaard that went a long way to changing people’s minds about what we were doing and, to some extent, who was doing it. Before then, there were doubts about a lot of things and that probably played a part with how our interest in Ramsdale was perceived.
He had just been relegated with Sheffield United, having previously gone down with Bournemouth, and it was hard to understand what exactly the manager had seen him that made him worth the transfer fee being demanded. I think it’s also fair to say that it didn’t take long for that to become apparent. After a difficult start to the season for the whole team, Bernd Leno was dropped after three defeats – none of which could really be attributed to him – and the new man came in.
It quickly became clear he was a good shot stopper, more dominant in his area than Leno, and could play with his feet. It wasn’t quite the same upgrade we saw when the German replaced Petr Cech, who looked like he was playing in wellies half the time, but it was another step up. We also came to know and understand his personality, which is a bit mad but the old cliche about how the best keepers are a bit different does have some truth to it.
He is a bit unconventional at times. The way he publicly talks about needing interactions in games with fans, often the opposition ones, to help him focus when he needs to is not something you hear a lot from goalkeepers. And look, he’s had a couple of iffy moments this season, but that happens. He is human, mistakes will happen, but I think he’s demonstrated a capacity to learn from them. I don’t think Mikel Arteta, a man who demands so much from his players, would sanction a new contract if he couldn’t see that himself.
Mostly though, Ramsdale has been excellent for us this season. He has 13 clean sheets to his name, nobody has played more minutes for us than him, and there have been some extremely impressive saves along the way. The one from Konate in the Liverpool game is possibly my favourite, the way he got across there to deny them what would have been a late winner was incredible. I also think his overall performance in the North London derby away from home was outstanding. It was one of those weird days when we were clearly the better team on the day, but he had to make a string of important stops to prevent them getting back into it.
Such was the quality of his performance, Richarlison tried to fight him, and one idiot of a fan assaulted him from the stands before running off like a little coward. It was so good it drove people associated with Sp*rs absolutely crazy, and I think we’ve got to applaud him for that.
Speaking to the official site, aside from changing people’s minds about him, Ramsdale said:
It’s a huge amount of pride, it’s something you work for. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been at the club for a month or for four years, you always want to get the next one and push on with the team.
To get it after two years, I’m buzzing. It just means I can concentrate and keep my head down, and hopefully after a few more years I’ll get another one and carry on living the dream at the football club.
Clearly recruitment this summer is top of people’s agenda, but securing the futures of our best players is another key aspect to what we need to do. Ramsdale is now in the same bracket as Gabriel and Gabriel Martinelli as job done, it’s just a question of time for the Bukayo Saka announcement because that one is done too, and there are a couple more that I’d love to see. Ben White is one, William Saliba the other and most pressing because of how long he’s got left. Let’s hope this back injury isn’t a major complication.
So, congrats to Aaron Ramsdale who is here to stay – and as a final note it’s interesting to think about how his role next season will demand even more. I’ve never really been into the rotating goalkeeper stuff, and you play your number one in the Champions League, so he’s going to have to raise his game to that level too. You’d back him to do though.
Right, that’s your lot for this morning. I’ll leave you with a brand new Arsecast, chatting to Amy Lawrence about this season, what comes next, and lots more. All the links you need to listen/subscribe are below. Enjoy the show!