“The best place to develop is in the most difficult league. After that the best place to show how good you are is in the easiest league, not in the most difficult.”
All too often a youngster who is in the developmental stage of his career will be drawn by the bright lights of a bigger club – perhaps Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich – move on a whim, only to fail to make the grade and be cast off by the time he reaches his mid-20s, his career set back by several years because he made his big move too soon.
Chelsea manager Mourinho is determined that that does not happen to Hazard. With rumours of Hazard, in spectacular form for the Blues, being keen to join Paris Saint Germain at the end of the season, Mourinho wanted to remind his player that the Premier League remains the best league – the only league – in which a potentially world-class player can test himself.
Like Hazard, Ramsey has emerged as a player of rare quality this season. Like Hazard, he has added maturity to his game, shown an increased tactical understanding, and is scoring goals.
Both players fall in the same bracket: diamonds in the rough. Both are playing for shrewd managers who are excellent motivators, and both are at the right club at the right stage of their careers. This season and the next are the years when they can become world-class players.
Ramsey’s form has drawn understandable comparisons with his compatriot Gareth Bale. Still only 24, Bale swapped White Hart Lane for Real Madrid during the summer, but it remains to be seen whether he will dominate La Liga in the way he lit up the Premier League. If he does not, critics will argue that he made his move to Madrid a couple of years too soon.
The comparisons between Ramsey and Bale will, inevitably, lead to transfer rumours, and it cannot be long, maybe only a year or two, before Ramsey is being mentioned in the same breath as Bale’s current employers. Or perhaps Barcelona, or ManchesterCity.
When he is, he would do well to consider Mourinho’s words of advice to Hazard. Like the Belgian, Ramsey must keep his feet on the ground. He is still at the ‘development stage’ of his career, and Arsenal is the perfect club at which to showcase his emerging ability.
image: © wonker