Sergio Ramos wants out; he’s had enough at Real Madrid. 10 years have brought him three league titles, two Copa del Reys, two Supercopa de España, and the one trophy that really matters to Madridistas, the European Cup. He has hit glamorous heights in his time there; he has plumbed the lows, too. The time is right for him to move on.
And where better for the defender to flex his muscles than at Manchester United? As David de Gea looks for a return home to Madrid, Ramos could fill the Spanish-flavoured gap in the Manchester United squad. The move looks increasingly likely to happen – United have made a bid for him, reported to be around £28 million, which is some distance short of Real Madrid’s valuation and the buy-out clause in Ramos’ contract (an eye-watering €180 million). However, things are made interesting by Real Madrid’s interest in David de Gea. United want a world-record fee for the goalkeeper which Madrid are reluctant to meet, and Ramos could act as a makeweight in any deal between the two clubs. This has become a story of two Spaniards, two cities and two of the biggest football clubs in the world.
It’s a love triangle that will eventually work out in everyone’s best interests; Madrid want de Gea, Ramos wants United; United want Ramos, and de Gea wants Madrid. It is surely only a matter of time until an agreement is reached between the parties.
And what can Ramos bring to the table for Manchester United?
He’s an accomplished central defender, having plied his trade in the upper echelons of the game for a decade; his trophy cabinet proves that he’s a born winner. His status as vice-captain of Los Blancos speaks volumes about his leadership qualities, and he is a leader, vocally, if not always in his actions. He will bring solidity and security to Manchester United’s back line, fortifying a defence which has looked suspect without Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. He was part of the historic, precedent-setting Spain which won three international titles – he knows how to play under a footballing philosophy, within a system, and that will stand him in good stead under Louis van Gaal.
Originally a right-back by trade, Ramos has adapted to become one the finest central defenders in world football. His versatility in defence means that he can deputise in a number of positions, should United ever need him to. He’s an assertive defender, already physically suited to the rough-and-ready style of the Premier League (and he should be able to perform on a wet, windy Tuesday night in Stoke, though the jury’s still out on Messi). He’s either clumsy (See video, below), a horrible bastard, or an unfortunate combination of the two: he has received 19 red cards in his time at Real Madrid – a club record, which speaks volumes for his no-nonsense style of defending. He’s the right blend of class-oozing, foul-committing tactical intelligence and talent which United sorely need at the heart of their defence.
When de Gea leaves Manchester for Madrid, United can turn to Victor Valdes who they signed in January. The former Barcelona ‘keeper was part of the Spain team, along with Ramos, which won the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Euros; Ramos will have someone to help him settle, and the two will already have an understanding between them when they play. With these two at the heart of the defence, Louis van Gaal will have a strong foundation on which he can develop his attack-minded footballing philosophy.
Having played under a similar philosophy in the Spanish national set-up – one based on possession and position – Ramos will be able to fulfil the role that van Gaal will need him to, as a defender who is both confident in possession and a competent with the ball at his feet. At only 29 years old, he still has a number of his prime years ahead of him, and he has earned the right to move on from Real Madrid in the search for greener pastures, a new challenge, and maybe – just maybe – some more success.