Was loan deal really the right call by Arsenal?

Towards the end of last week, I was surprised to discover that Arsene Wenger had decided to loan out one of the Gunners’ most promising youngsters – Aaron Ramsey to Nottingham Forest. Terms have been agreed upon and Ramsey is expected to stay with Forest until January. The move was all the more surprising given that Ramsey is tentatively finding his feet in the footballing world once more after having his leg broken in a tackle with Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross.

After a collision with the Stoke player in February, the young Welshman was left prostrate on the ground of the Britannia Stadium, with his mutilated leg hanging in the air at a disturbing angle. He had fractured his fibula and tibia and was to spend 9 months in convalescence. Now it seems he’s approaching a stage where he’d once more be ready for action. The initial signs were good – Ramsey managed to play 45 minutes with the Arsenal reserves last Tuesday and came through without pulling or tweaking anything.

Of course, it’s vital to urge caution. Rushing a player back from a long term injury often has disastrous consequences (as was the case with Owen Hargreaves this season). Arsenal fans will be hoping that their talented youngster manages to pull through and make it back into their squad sooner rather than later. The fact that Wenger would choose to loan out Ramsey doesn’t surprise me. The fact that he’s done it so early on in Ramsey’s recovery does.

Indeed, a month or so ago I wrote an article that suggested the increased competition in Arsenal’s midfield meant that Ramsey would be required to seek a loan move or a permanent move elsewhere if he were to recover his fitness. I, however, would not have expected this to happen until Arsenal were sure that Ramsey’s recovery was complete and that it was safe for him to attempt to rebuild match fitness. Is 45 minutes with the reserves and a few medicals enough to genuinely assess that Ramsey is ready for competitive football once more?

If I were Arsenal I would want to ensure that Ramsey isn’t rushed into games in this delicate stage of his recovery. By sending him to Nottingham Forest, they are giving up control of the situation. I’m sure that the loan move contained within it many stipulations – stating perhaps that Ramsey should only play so many games and I’m also sure that Forest won’t be reckless with the youngster, but why would Arsene choose to hand over the responsibility?

The main reason for Ramsey’s move seems to be that it’s a chance for him to recover match fitness – a chance he might not get in the current Arsenal squad. Wenger told the media: “We need to give him back his competitiveness and that takes a few games.”

It’s my belief, however, that had Ramsey stuck around, there would have been plenty of opportunity for game time for the young Welshman. Fabregas is currently suffering from a mysterious hamstring injury, Diaby is nowhere to be seen and Denilson is underperforming this season. At Arsenal Ramsey would have been given an opportunity to ease himself into the game once more. Furthermore, if he impressed, there was definitely space within the team for him to start playing more and more often.

The loan move has left me bemused. Yes, Ramsey needs games if he’s going to recover his fitness, but why couldn’t he have had these games at Arsenal where his recovery could have been closely monitored? All I hope is that Ramsey continues to progress and that when we see him again in January, he’s ready for action.

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