AARON RAMSEY has no doubt Arsenal is the “right” place for him to develop his career.
At 17, the Wales midfielder was one of the hottest properties in the British transfer market this summer and is set to cost the Gunners £5million (€6.3m) after a cash deal was agreed with Cardiff.
There were, though, other options on the table for the teenager – including the lure of Premier League and European champions Manchester United as well as Everton, who both also matched the Coca-Cola Championship club’s valuation.
However, the prospect of working with Arsene Wenger – who has nurtured so many talented youngsters and personally met with Ramsey when Arsenal flew him out to Switzerland – proved a decisive factor.
“It’s an honour to be wanted by massive clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton,” Ramsey said.
“In the end I had to make the decision I felt was right for my future.”
The teenager knows he cannot rest on his laurels if he is to cement a place in Wenger’s first team at Emirates Stadium alongside the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott.
“Cardiff City gave me my start in professional football and I won’t forget that. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I first joined as a schoolboy,” Ramsey recalled.
“I have come a fair way since then, but there is still a lot of hard work ahead.”
Wenger has always put his faith in youth – “you can only pay for their education with points that you lose”, he reflected – although that was not enough last season as the young Gunners came up just short in the race for the title and in Europe. The Frenchman’s honest discussions with Ramsey – who impressed as a substitute during the FA Cup final defeat against Portsmouth at Wembley – are understood to have convinced him to opt for north London instead of the north-west.
The deal for Ramsey has yet to be formally completed but an official announcement from Arsenal is expected by the end of the week.
Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale, meanwhile, has candidly admitted he would have liked the teenager to move to Old Trafford in a deal which would have seen them retain Ramsey again next season on loan.
But Ramsey clearly preferred the chance to stake a claim with Arsenal from day one and prove he can indeed cut it at the highest level.
There have been suggestions United boss Alex Ferguson – whom it is reported left the face-to-face meeting with Ramsey to Gary Neville – was less than impressed by the outcome. However, Ridsdale, once chairman of United’s bitter rivals Leeds, maintained: “I believe we handled the situation as well as it could be handled.
“I spoke to David Gill, Manchester United’s chief executive, yesterday and they are disappointed, but there is no problem with Cardiff City whatsoever.
“We had a detailed chat and there is no bad vibe, none whatsoever. I kept Manchester United informed at every moment. They were the first to make a £5million offer, but I told them at the time that if any other clubs came in at an identical level, they would also be given permission for talks with Aaron.
“Arsenal have sent me an email thanking Cardiff City for the way the transfer negotiations were handled.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved