Southampton's Uruguayan playmaker appears set for the exit, with a number of Italian sides waiting to take the former Bologna maestro back to Serie A.
A star since leaving Penarol in 2010, Ramirez clinched a shock £12m move to newly promoted Southampton, despite interest from Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Whilst Ramirez enjoyed a solid if unspectacular first season in England, he has struggled to replicate the form he showed in Italy.
He is yet to start a Premier League game this season, and his relationship with manager Mauricio Pochettino has deteriorated gradually since the Argentine replaced Nigel Adkins last season. With a spot in Uruguay's World Cup squad up for grabs – and ultimately slipping away from Ramirez as his prolonged absence continues – he could now be set for a move back to Serie A.
Napoli, Inter Milan and Lazio are reportedly interested in taking Ramirez back to Italy, whilst AC Milan have also been credited with an interest in the 22 year old, though with the impending arrival of CSKA Moscow's Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda to the San Siro, and with Kaka already re-signed, it seems unlikely that the Rossoneri would add another player in the same position.
Napoli converted a 4-2-3-1 system under Rafael Benitez, with Marek Hamsik occupying the space behind Gonzalo Higuain, and with Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne all battling for places on the flanks, Ramirez could be consigned to a covering role should be move to Naples.
Truth be told, Inter or Lazio represent the best opportunity for Ramirez to leave St. Mary's and instantly have an impact on the team, which is what he needs to do as he looks to impress Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez, with a view to securing his place on the plane to Brazil next summer.
With the strained relationship between Pochettino and Ramirez, Southampton are likely to allow Ramirez to leave just over a year after his big money move, although it's incredibly unlikely that Southampton will manage to get all of their£12m back, despite Ramirez being young and obviously talented.
With great dribbling ability and a fantastic left foot, Ramirez still has a long future at the top of the game – it just looks like it won't be on the South Coast of England, nor under Pochettino.
image: © jikatu