Ramsey: Juventus leading race to sign Arsenal midfielder

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Juventus are leading the race to sign Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The 28-year-old’s current preference is to join the Italian champions but, contrary to some reports, he has yet to make a final decision and will continue to consider offers from a number of Europe’s leading clubs.

It is understood his boyhood dream was to play for Barcelona but despite preliminary talks that option will not be pursued.

An offer from Paris St-Germain is thought to carry great appeal, while there is also interest from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.

Madrid forward Gareth Bale is understood to have encouraged his Wales team-mate to link up with him in Spain.

There have been enquiries from English sides and if Ramsey was to remain in the Premier League he would favour a move to Liverpool.

However, although there is still a possibility the situation might change, it is almost certain the former Cardiff player will go abroad.

Once Ramsey’s choice is made, he is expected to sign a pre-contract agreement and undergo a medical this month.

He will complete the campaign with Arsenal prior to leaving as a free agent in the summer.

With no transfer fee to pay, the likelihood is Ramsey’s next club will make him the best-paid British player of all time.

He will not be signing a new deal with Arsenal after the Gunners withdrew a fresh four-year offer in September for football and financial reasons.

The two parties were close to finalising an agreement but no physical contract was on the table when the club decided to pull out.

Ramsey was said to be keen to stay yet grew frustrated with the protracted process and, by the end, there were doubts over whether he would have put pen to paper.

Ultimately Arsenal were not prepared to meet his salary demands, with some among the hierarchy regretting the new deal given to Mesut Ozil a year ago, worth £350,000 per week, and determined to avoid a repeat.

Meanwhile, head coach Unai Emery had reservations about Ramsey’s role in his squad.

Soon after Emery was appointed last summer, it was reported he wanted to build the team around Arsenal’s longest-serving player, who was named as one of five captains for this season.

But it became clear that Ramsey’s desire to play as a number eight, running on to the ball from an advanced central midfield position, clashed with Emery’s vision.

Emery does not usually deploy a number eight, meaning the Welshman has mainly been used in a strict deeper role without license to roam or in the number 10 position with his back to goal.

That partly explains why Ramsey’s game time has been limited and is among the factors attracting him to Juventus, where manager Massimiliano Allegri tends to operate with a three-man midfield.

Arsenal boss Emery praised the midfielder’s attitude on Thursday, saying: “Every day he’s here with us, he’s working very well.

“In the last match I was very happy with him. I asked in the last match at Blackpool if he is OK to help us play and he said, ‘Yeah, coach, I want to play’ and he played with a very big behaviour and commitment to us.

“After, his future belongs to him, his family and agent.

“I want his behaviour and his focus to be on West Ham on Saturday.”

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