Our head of football, Raul Sanllehi, and managing director Vinai Venkatesham have cleared up the situation regarding Aaron Ramsey's departure this summer.
Read on for a full transcript:
LW: I think it's important as well to clarify, for this fanbase, when you talk about contracts, what actually happened with the Aaron Ramsey contract? Because when we talk about reinvesting in the club and trying to make the best deals possible and get some money back from players that we allow to leave or sell, what happened with Aaron Ramsey and why was he allowed to go on a free?
RS: Well, that's a good question. I'm glad you asked. Although I normally don't like to personalise - and let me start by saying this - not only do we have the highest respect and esteem for Aaron, we also think he is a great professional and a great football player. For circumstances, whatever it was, we went to the last year of contract. That's a problem. When you go to the last year of contract of a player because of the way this is designed, there are a lot of clubs who can get that player for free. Now, that player has a market value. A strong market value, in Aaron's case. So, any club can project... the total investment of a player is always an addition of two factors: the salary you are going to pay him and the transfer fee you are going to pay for him. Now if you take out one of those two, and with Aaron arriving to the last year of contract, one of them was pretty much zero, you can really build up on the other one very, very much. Now, we have to be responsible on how we manage the club. One of the key things for me - and I've seen that happening in other clubs - one of the key things is to keep the rationality in the salary balance of the team. Because of our circumstances, because of not renewing Aaron on time we were in a situation in which Aaron had incredible offers building up on the salary. He was really keen on staying with us, he was ready to make the effort but at the end of the whole process we had to be responsible for ourselves and protect the interests of Arsenal. We realised we were going to cause an imbalance that would have been very harmful for the team’s sake in the medium and longer term.
LW: So do you think that Arsenal can accept that there was an error made along the process, way before, to allow it to get to the situation where his contract was too close to being up?
RS: Yes. At the end of the day, the problem, the real essence of the problem, was that we had reached the last year of the contract. I think Vinai mentioned it at the beginning of this interview, one of our priorities is not to get to the last year of contracts. This is the example. This is the reason why. The only way to get to the end of a contract is when you are ready to release that player at the end of that contract. But if you really want to keep that player, you need to renew him before getting to the last year of the contract because you are putting yourself in a very weak position. We cannot get to the last year of the contract. If we cannot get a renewal before that, then we may have to sell. But the position of the club, of losing a player of the quality - and not only the football quality but the human quality and club identification - of Aaron, we have to avoid that. It's not correct for us.
VV: And I'd just echo everything that Raul says there as well. The fact is Aaron leaves with our very best wishes. He's made an extraordinary contribution to the club in the time that he's been here. He's been an integral part of our FA Cup successes along the way and he leaves with our best wishes. We all saw the type of man that Aaron is on the pitch, giving absolutely 100 per cent until the final minute and the respect that we have for Aaron has only grown over the last season.
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