Fireworks and shiny confetti illuminated the Allianz Stadium on Sunday evening with Juventus’ enthusiasm for winning after an eighth successive title barely dimming. Aaron Ramsey appeared engrossed in the stands, deep in thought whenever the cameras caught the Arsenal star, who will join the Italian giants in a matter of days when his contract expires.
His first visit to his new home saw the Old Lady summon enough pride, seemingly through habit, to deny Atalanta victory despite almost a month since clinching the scudetto. But the moments following the 1-1 draw will have resonated most for Ramsey, with club legends Andrea Barzagli and Massimiliano Allegri both being tossed into the Piedmont night sky in recognition for all they achieved.
Ramsey was also celebrated at Arsenal earlier this month after the final Emirates match of the season against Brighton. The Welshman experienced an outpouring of emotion after 11 years at the club, with tears trickling down his face. That affection given back to those who have sacrificed the most is where the similarities between the two clubs end though.
Despite joining a winning machine, it would be wrong to assume Ramsey’s decision was taken in anticipation of a serene experience in northern Italy.
“Winning is not just important, it’s the only thing that matters,” Juventus youngster Stephy Mavididi was told upon swapping red of north London for the famous black and white stripes last summer.
A tenacious desire to win is deeply embedded at Juventus, something that has been absent at the Emirates during Ramsey’s time, despite winning three FA Cups. Ramsey represents the latest lavish outlay for a team obsessed with substance over style in pursuit of the Champions League.
Sporting director Fabio Paratici coveted Ramsey’s unique skill set, justifying an exorbitant outlay which could see Ramsey fetch up to £400,000 per week when signing fees and bonuses are added up. A price worth paying if he can ease the searing focus on Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference in the final third.
There will be an immediate emphasis on Ramsey adjusting his game to suit his new league which is, according to Milan goalkeeper and former Liverpool star Pepe Reina, “tactically better and stronger with better positioning”.
Mavididi agrees, remembering the overwhelming tactical information he was fed in his first weeks in Turin.
“The main thing that struck me is the amount of tactics that we do,” Mavididi tells The Independent. “In England it’s all possession and match-based, here it’s much different, much more tactics.”
“There are some video sessions and then on the pitch it’s phases of play, the manager (Massimiliano Allegri) will throw in different scenarios and make us think of solutions.
“It’s the same with the video, he’ll show us a problem and we’ll have to find a solution.”
The young Juve forward who made his debut for the first team against Spal has been struck by the importance of being “cute” with your body, something Ramsey is already accustomed to when discovering pockets of space in and around the box.
Juve had once set the standard for dominant midfields, which have since become imperative for those pursuing glory in Europe. But since Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio, there has been a drop-off. At least in terms of goals and an ability to knit the midfield to the attack, with Miralem Pjanic seemingly in need of help.
Paratici almost bemoaned the versatility of the other midfield options when revealing his excitement at a specialist in Ramsey. Blaise Matuidi, Emre Can and Rodrigo Bentancur all shuffle around the magnetic Pjanic at the base of the midfield, yet none are capable of providing the cutting edge of Ramsey.
Allegri’s departure confuses matters somewhat, yet Ramsey will remain integral to the project no matter who his successor is, with Maurizio Sarri and Simone Inzaghi under consideration.
Expectations are different in Turin, but having confessed to growing up at Arsenal to become a man, he is ready to meet them with aplomb.
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