Jack, Torreira, Leno, Ramsey: The Big Questions this Summer

Sadly, Jack announces his departure

We all knew it was on the cards and now he has confirmed it; after 17 years at Arsenal, the club’s most prodigious self-developed talent is seeking another club. Those of us who grew up with football have never had any difficulties in spotting the incredible talent of Jack: great on the ball, great eye for a pass, beautiful burst forward to create space and momentum and great attitude on the pitch. Enormous fitness challenges due to injuries over the years have limited his development; and despite Wenger helping him as much as he could to regain first-team form, he just did not reach the level of football he used to play at, and is required at Arsenal. The video below depicts beautifully all that Jack was capable of and what an enormous talent he promised to be:

At 26 and wanting to play football on a weekly basis, Jack, I guess, had to go. But he will be missed and wherever he goes, abroad or in the PL, I wish him well.

The big question is now where will he go and will he still come good?

Leno is a Gunner

Bernd Leno has joined the club from Bayern Leverkusen for whom he stood between the woodwork for just over 300 times in seven seasons (43 games per season). At 26 this ought to be his big move, and those who scouted him must believe that he is the one for us. I find it hard to judge the quality of a GK until they join us. Even then, it is not easy to judge whether we win or lose a game purely because of the contributions of a goalkeeper. You can look at the ability to stop shots and make incredible saves, but organisation of defence, judgement on when to intervene/come out and ability to spook attackers when they are about to pull the trigger, are just as important. A good goalkeeper needs quite a few qualities and they have to really click with their fellow defenders as well, of course.

There are two big questions re Leno’s arrival: will he be our nr.1 goalkeeper or will he have to compete for it; and who will leave the club this summer? If it was me I would let Ospina go, so Cech – the Master – can work with Leno – the apprentice – and make him world class (just as Lichtsteiner will be working with Hector).

Ramsey: sign or go

With the anticipated arrival of Torreira and the confirmed departure of Jack Wilshere (and I reckon these two events are directly related), and the recent contract extensions of Elneny and Xhaka, the central midfield positions are more or less sorted. It looks like Maitland-Niles (AMN) will also play more first team football next season, and this would give us four players for the central midfield positions (the double pivot). All four players are well-rounded midfielders who can defend as well as support the attack. I believe they will be required to sit back more and play with (defensive) discipline to make us more solid, especially in away games (but maybe this is more a case of wishful thinking on my side! 🙂 ).

Key questions are: who are first choice for the pivot and what to do with Aaron Ramsey. Will he still be the nr.1 B2B midfielder or will he be moved into the hole in a 4-2-1-3 formation?

I believe Xhaka-Torreira will become our first choice double-pivot midfielders and AMN/Elneny will be the back up (and starting a few PL games and most of the cup games). Xhaka will love the added energy and defensive support from the Uruguayan, and this will allow him to sit deep in midfield from where he is most effective.

I anticipate that he will indeed be moved into the hole with a front three of Mkhi/Auba – Auba-Laca – Ozil/Perez. Ozil will play in a free role with some defensive responsibilities and a strong focus on supporting Ramsey in making things happen in attack. So, often it will look like 2-2-2 in front of the defence with one or two wingbacks supporting the attackers in addition. I still expect Rambo to run a lot between midfield/defence and attack but with two midfielders behind him rather than just the one. This would also be a good role for Iwobi to develop further in, as back up for Rambo. In case of injury, Ozil will slot into the ‘hole-position’ for the big games and Iwobi can fill the position in the cup games and easier PL games as to give the Welshman a rest.

However, Ramsey will have to sign a new contract first and my gut feeling is this will drag on and on. If this is going to be the case, I hope the club sell him and sign a quality player asap. You are either in or out, Aaron.

By TotalArsenal. 

41 thoughts on “Jack, Torreira, Leno, Ramsey: The Big Questions this Summer

  • TA, lovely post. All things Arsenal.

    I wrote a post last season ” A Song to Jack”. Unfortunately that song would never be (who knows). Somehow over the course of last season I was able to adjust to the possibility that he might leave. Now I feel less pain than I felt when Diaby left. Both blighted by injuries that eclipsed their progression into world stars. Maybe my pain on Jack’s is less because his still has a silver lining. I wish him well.

    Leno. I can’t see us spending over £19m for a keeper to sit on the bench. Who goes between Cech and Ospina wouldn’t be determined by football matters. Ospina would fetch more in the market. But Cech wage bill off would be quite attractive. Only snag is finding who’d be willing to be parting with £100k per week on Cech.
    You are right about all the unseen that a keeper can give to the defence. My joy with Leno is that he is good with his feet also, a prerequisite for 21st century keepers.

    Ramsey. There is so much talk about Emery wanting to build the team around Ramsey, which I dont believe. As a matter of fact, with a coach that is very much keen on discipline, I’d say that Ramsey’s position is threatened. Unless he builds the team to accomodate him. But remember he is already building (Torreira) to accomodate Xhaka, and with Emery’s emphasis on pressing he would also be building to accommodate Ozil. No, no, no.
    Ramsey is very self willed. He wants his wages up, up. I doubt if the club would yield. And no team would come up with that wage for him, unless he is on the free. That might happen. And if that would happen, nobody is going to build a team around him.

  • Hi PE

    I was thinking about Diaby this morning. He is still only 32, and just imagine how a fully fit combo of Jack and Abou would have bossed our midfield for years to come. A cry and shame!

    Agreed re Rambo. I am just hoping this does not drag on and on. He is not a bad player but we would cope easily without him, and, given his proneness to injury, we just cannot build a team around him. A PSG swap for Rabiot would be nice alternative!

  • PE–
    I like also that Leno stands 6’3″. David Ospina is a good keeper– not a bad #2 at all. He does though lack command of the box on crosses and corners. Couple that with CBs of average height and it’s a recipe for trouble.

    On the MF pivot pair– Torriera can be paired with any of the other three mentioned IMO. Like Xhaka, he possesses good long touch on his passing from deep (from what I’ve seen in video, anyway). To mean that we might see more of him paired with AMN and Elneny as the season wears on. Of the mind that Torreira will be at the center of Emery’s plans to press.

    May be through that lens we have to view Ramsey. No doubt Aaron has the stamina to perform in the hole– and press. But will he be (and here’s that word again) disciplined enough to retain position central to pressing tactics?

    Where I do like Rabiot– I’m not certain that’s a ‘swap’ I’d make. Ramsey’s knack for key goals tip the scale. Where it might be folly to rely on Aaron’s fitness and build around him? Recall just 3 and 4 years back– Mkhi played behind Lewandowski, then Auba. So not just Ramsey or Ozil there. Mkhi will press and tackle.


  • It was an interesting snippet released by Jack W recently when he revealed that Arsenal (Emery) made it clear they would honour the reduced pay contract offer (with bonuses) made to him by AW, before he was terminated by the Board, and it was still ‘on the table’ if he wanted to accept it.
    The downside for Jack was that he would have to accept that he would not be guaranteed a place in the team as often as he would like.

    If Jack was as confident in his own ability as he made out, I am surprised that he did not sign up, and grab the midfield spot, and make it impossible for the manager to drop him because of the quality of his play. Apparently he could not see himself doing that and decided to go.
    I am also disappointed, like some others, that after all these years his career at Arsenal has hit the buffers, but the limited number of appearances he has made for us over recent years has frequently disrupted the team set up and tactics, so his departure is probably best for both parties.

  • Another thought about Mkhi came to mind. That I don’t feel we can look at him as a typical 29 year old player. Hardly taxed for the two seasons at United? Far less mileage on those wheels than most that age.


  • RA–
    I’d felt that was management’s litmus test on Jack. Leave the offer open– then see his reaction to ‘not guaranteed minutes’. Always I wish Jack the best, But fear he’s opened himself up to the possibility of a journeyman’s career now.

    Always gives all on-pitch. Sells himself short off it.


  • Aaron Ramsey is not at the World Cup, he has a big contract offer sitting on the negotiating table (if the rumours are true) and it remains unsigned.
    Ramsey and his advisors will be aware that both Walcott and Ozil took it to the wire and got hugely inflated deals – but that was under the old regime, this is the Age of SMEG, this will not be allowed to drift, a decision one way or the other will have to be done by August 9th, imo…

    I’d imagine that the club are scouting Ramsey alternatives as we sit drinking our tea or coffee.

    I’m not not sure about Aaron, he was/is a Wenger man, he had a certain loyalty to the Frenchman and he probably enjoyed the no blame culture that Arsene allowed to develop at the club.
    I’d like to think that a more responsible/structured approach would appeal to him, but if it doesn’t then c’est la vie Taffy…

    Reiss Nelson is in a similar position, but I suspect that he is being led by the nose by his advisors.

  • PE, my thoughts entirely on Leno, a club record for a goalkeeper, and Cech regarding salary.
    Finance is a major driver with the team rebuilding job of Emery, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Cech left and Ospina stayed or they both left.

  • I have never really understood the reasoning behind the assumption that Rambo has lacked discipline. It is also true that I have not always been his biggest fan, but playing in the team under the watchful eye of AW, and also to have been made captain by Arsene on occasion, makes me feel that whatever role he filled for the Gunners, he was acting on instructions.

    It seems to me that he will leave, and that the new manager knows that too, hence the new midfield addition.

    On the other hand, now that Xhaka has been offered and accepted a new contract, most fans are saying that is a ‘good thing’, but I find that strange. We are told Emery wants a hard pressing game, and a player less suite for that than Xhaka is hard to imagine.

    He is slow – he turns at the speed of a snail, and often gets outrun by any half decent forwards, and he cannot tackle for toffee. Against that he has wonderful control over long passes more suited to a defensive ‘back’ player — but a pressing player? No way.

    [I appreciate that the above are subjective opinions, and that others may feel very differently about Granit, but we will soon see whether the perceived ‘pressing’ tactics of the new manager, and the reality of Xhaka’s limitations will cause an imbalance in the team — nonetheless I hope I am proved wrong, and will hold my hand up if that does not turn out to be a problem.]

  • Great post Total, yeah Rabiot, Unai knows everything there is to know about the Frenchman, although I’ve been reading links to an Argentinian midfielder, Banega I think, 29….?

  • jw1 @ 12:28

    That pretty much seems to have encapsulated what has happened — and is in actualité a clever ploy by Emery to ‘manage’ Jack, and made him face up to the best option for him, without literally giving him the boot. 🙂

    Sad, but necessary, and a sign of the management changes at the Arse.

  • Kev–
    Per Reiss Nelson? Be interesting if the club pursue Gelson Martins– once his Sporting contract situation is known.


  • Good point JW, that situation is very much in flux and as much in the hands of lawyers as agents.
    I don’t really know anything about Martins tbh, I don’t even know what he looks like only that he is fast, tricky and plays for Sporting Lisbon.
    But if Sven say ja, then I say das it’s gut….

  • RA, on Rambo and discipline .. I remember a few seasons back that Wenger even had to go public in advising Rambo on not being excessively keen on getting his name on the score sheet. It seems to me that when he couldn’t rein him in, he (Wenger) decided that he could as well turn the “indiscipline” into a useful weapon. Rambo gets the goals but it’s difficult to quantify the harm his unfettered runs cause.

    On Xhaka and pressing ……. there is no doubt that he is a slow coach. But much would depend on what kind of pressing Emery would demand. So far he has indicated that he wants his team to win the ball back quickly. It’s doesn’t happen regularly losing the ball in the 1st and middle third where Xhaka is expected to mostly operate. Balls are lost mostly in the final third so that high press is expected to come mostly from our front men unless Emery would demand the Liv kind of crazy press all over the pitch. Some teams have the 6 seconds rule press, after which if they don’t win the ball back they abandon the structured press.

  • jw …… the fact that Jack chickened out of no guarantee of assured playing time means he is no longer a boy for a bit of a game. His belief in himself has waned. Makes me sad.

  • Pony Eye,

    You could be right on your comment re Rambo, as I did not hear Wenger say that.I suspect he will go, so we may never know.

    I hear what you say on Xhaka, but I remain unconvinced about him — but in fairness, none of us know what will transpire until the transfer-go-round finishes and Emery gets the team back for pre-season.

    I am still hopeful for a much better season next year — so, fingers crossed. 🙂

  • Hi RA, nice to see you.
    In the Ramsey discussion, Arsene may have been right again about players running down contracts more often, if some people’s guesses are correct. Lining up bigger paydays for leaving on a free.
    Certainly there is no loyalty to clubs anymore.
    I agree with TA– in or out for Ramsey. I hope it’s in.
    But I also hope Kev is right, in that the club will at least attempt to be ruthless. The Banega rumour may be total fiction, but i have always liked the player. Though i see him as a less advanced type midfielder, more of a hard worker, from further back.

  • Hi Jnyc, good to see you too!! 😀

    I cannot disagree with anything you mentioned @ 14:58.

    Once the transfer market is closed, things will settle down and we will get a better feel for how we will set out our stall. I am trying not to make too much of the management and player changes, but I am quietly excited and hopeful for next season and how it could pan out.

  • Kev–
    Martins had 13G/13A this past season. Taking into consideration the level– those are still fine numbers for a winger. Not unlike Lemar-style numbers a year ago. Two things I like better about Martins than Lemar? A much larger physique– and– he could come without a fee.


  • Croatia 3-0 Argentina. Did anyone see that coming? Not me; not in a Messi era, anyway. And to think

  • Seven yellows in the Argentina-Croatia match. Saw just the 2nd half– and it got mean. Thought Otamendi should have been sent off. Rakitic was lying prone face down on the ground after being fouled from behind– the ball less than a foot from his head. With play stopped, Otamendi gave it a whack– off Rakitic’s noggin– which started a spate of YKs late.


  • Neither of us Eris– from our pool picks!
    Croatia looks solid. Strong MF in Modric and Rakitic (both with goals) then Perisic.
    The other (Rebic) I don’t really know? scored too.

    Luka Modric just never stops. Perpetual motion midfielder.


  • If Nigeria should as much as get a draw with Argentina, then they are out irrespective of the Nigeria-Iceland result. Some maths there.

  • No surprises there for Argentina. I thought that Argentina is a team of individuals, rather than a team itself. Barca is different. You build your team around Messi, rather than trying to get the ball to him. Makes a hell lot of difference.

    On Portugal, Cristiano is able to play with a Team of players built around him, and he is so strong that defenders struggle to get the ball off him.

    Need me to say more? I rather not.

  • I’ve always liked Croatia, ever since Davor Suker took Euro 96 by storm.
    Yes they have some wind-up merchants and they can simulate with the best of them, but for a country of their size I find their performances among the most impressive in world football.

    Argentina are a mess, but I won’t cry for them, you reap what you sow.
    Iwobi to put them out of their misery…

  • Morning to all 🙂

    Thanks for your comments and insights.

    The WC games have been harder to watch over the last few days. Lots of passes going astray and defences being much better organised than attacks, leading to a lot of action away from the goal but in and around it. Chili v France was so physical and energetic and Giroud was rightly picked for that match. He was in a battle all game and was once again important for the winning goal. Croatia were luck to keep their eleven men on the pitch but their midfield is indeed v impressive, and a great goal by LM.

    Hoping for a rejuvenated and centrally playing Iwobi today.

  • “Goonereris says:
    June 21, 2018 at 20:57
    Croatia 3-0 Argentina. Did anyone see that coming? Not me; not in a Messi era, anyway. And to think”

    Yesterday I saw the Argentina line-up (it was leaked 24 hours earlier) and I said that if Sampaoli is serious about it and the Croatian manager uses his midfield in a proper way (there were rumours of Modrić playing at “10” instead of his position), Argentina might get a humiliation like against Germany 2010.

    It’s quite simple – Argentina have no balance and their midfield selection was baffling. No transition, no creativity, no ability to keep the ball under pressure. Modrić looked like a mix of Kante and Iniesta mostly because of Sampaoli’s selection that saw Banega and Biglia sitting one out.

    Croatia have a strong side and arguably the best midfield in the tournament. Brozović is a pretty decent defensive midfielder, Modrić is arguably the best in the world and Rakitić, who was brilliant last night, is very underrated. Rakitić played for Emery’s Sevilla in 2013-14, mind you. When you have winners of last five Champions League trophies in the midfield, you have to be respected by any opponent. And let’s not forget about Kovačić who is benched at Real Madrid but would have walked into any other team in the tournament bar Spain. Hard-working attackers Perišić, Rebić and Mandžukić give a strong physical dimension to the team. Possibly the weakest link – aside from proverbial Lovren – could be Subašić. Ivan Strinić was expected to be the weakest link but he’s done well in the first two games of the tournament.

    All-in-all, it might be a very sad end of the international career for Leo Messi. World Cup 2014 was his biggest chance to win a big international tournament followed by two consecutive defeats to Alexis’ Chile at Copa America.

  • good summary of the strength of Croatia, Admir. They surely have a fine midfield!

    Kev, you know we were speaking about Van Bommel the other day… He is taking over at PSV, as the manager, from Cocu who is leaving for a Turkish club.

  • That you mention Alexis Sanchez– Admir?
    That his and Leo Messi’s international career arcs have glanced off one another?
    Is telling in how each dealt (dealing) with realizations; and how, differently.

    Find it difficult to measure an individual great by his country’s performances or achievements either good or bad. For Messi, everybody likes a happy ending when a consummate pro is involved (except maybe at your team’s expense). Those Copa America defeats didn’t seem to dampen Messi’s drive much at all. Where Sanchez took Chile’s lack of World Cup qualification like a crushing weight. And that carried over and through the non-sale to City– and beyond.

    Many argue we should have taken the £50-60M from City– a year ago (ostensibly to fund the Thomas Lemar buy). In hindsight? Arsene Wenger, knowingly or not– made a great choice IMO, in keeping Sanchez until January. That he ended up at United, in the clutches of Mourinho? And not inspired to ‘bigger and better’ by Pep? May have kept the balance of the PL from tilting more sharply in City’s favor– and longer term too, possibly. In hindsight, Arsenal benefited as well– from a Superball™-style-bounce toward a managerial change and roster remake. Changes that could have taken, perhaps, another 12-18 months– without those bounces going as they have.

    Now, we have Leo Messi– seeing his dream of hoisting the World Cup for Argentina– being dashed on the shoals of his teammates’ mediocrity. Argentina could surprise us all still– but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    Pro that Messi is? He’ll be back with a vengeance at Barca in August.
    Keen then also to see if there is any fuel left in Alexis’ tank next season.


  • 2-0 win for Nigeria against Iceland. We came alive in the 2nd half and played with our DNA … attacking, aggressive football. A draw against Argentina could qualify us. Iwobi had a few minutes appearance.

  • Happy that Nigeria have finally come to the party, playing the 2nd half like we know they can. Now, to remain solid in defence against Argentina while retaining some break away threat upfront. I don’t see this Argentine defence holding out against our counter attacks.

    Ahmed Musa, with 4 goals is Nigeria’s highest goal scorer at the World Cup now. He got 2 against Argentina at the last tournament and 2 more today. Player for the big occasion (even if capable of some brain farts, at times). Change of formation did it; we sized up the opposition in the first half and were a different side in the second half. It must be said that Gylfi did send that penalty over the goal or we may have given them hope at 2-1.

    Hope to watch our Swiss lads do a number on Serbia.

  • ♪♫ It’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up pool —
    ‘Cept for Croatia cro cro cro Croaaaaatia… ♫♬

    (~Apologies to Ray Davies)


  • Xhaka let rip and Shaqiri completed the scoring for the Swiss victory. Soccer is such a funny ol’ game, with different emotions shown by fans of both sides.

  • Well I love to live so pleasantly
    Live this life of luxury
    Lazing on a sunny afternoon
    In summertime
    In summertime

  • Argentina is officially out? Musa is a good player and what he did to Iceland is that he almost did to us in the Europa League.

    Good tactical change by the Nigerian coach and that is some style by Nigeria.

    Yesterday Xhaka and Shaqiri scored for Swiss. I will not touch the sensitiveness of their country of origin, but it was some nice goals by the both of them.

  • Eris–
    You and I have exchanged hot streaks predicting exact scores the past few days.
    Where I had the SRB-SUI match exact at 1-1 — and you scooped it at 2-1 when Shaqiri scored the winner? Considering it was Switzerland– I’m not so disappointed.

    Though at half Belgium-Tunisia you’ve got another exact pick in your grasp at 3-1 — but that doesn’t look to hold through fast.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s