By now we’ve all heard the rumours surrounding Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and rightly it has quite a few fans antsy. Ramos has been at the club for ten seasons and has been a main stay in the first team since his arrival. Granted it took him some time to become the force he now is, he has never lacked zeal− though he’s sometimes a bit over-zealous.
Speaking of his zealousness, Ramos is on most occasions indeed too much of an aggressive defender, which tends to get him in trouble. According to WhoScored, in his last 256 appearances for both club and country, he’s picked up a total of 94 cards- 86 yellows and 8 reds. However, knowing Ramos’ on-field persona, one should take this with a grain of salt, as he does get booked often for dissent. Additionally, when compared to other top defenders, Ramos’ red card accumulation, as some would have us believe, isn’t terribly bad. Mascherano has picked up 5 red cards in his last 240 appearances, as has Piqué in his last 234. Ramos’ yellow card collection on the other hand is quite extreme.
There are plenty of positives to Ramos’ game that all outweigh his penchant for committing fouls. He is fast, strong in the air defensively, calm in possession, has quick feet and is a major threat on set pieces.
Over the last six seasons he’s averaged 2.4 tackles per game for Real Madrid, while Pique’s average sits at 1.8 in the same period. Comparing him again to Piqué, Ramos’ pass interception average per game is 2.5, while the Barcelona defender averages 1.6. He’s also won an average of 2.8 aerial duels per game over the last six seasons. His mean passing accuracy last season was 90% and his overall average for the past five seasons is 87%.
When it comes to set pieces Ramos is a force to be reckoned with. As reported by Opta Sports, he is the defender, who has scored the most goals in the top five leagues in the last ten years− 40 goals in total, 26 of which were headers. And lest we forget, one of those 26 headers was his heroic injury time equaliser against Atleticó Madrid in the 2013/2014 Champions League final, which helped Real Madrid on their way to lifting La Décima. He also scored two important [headed] goals against Bayern Munich in the semi-final in the same campaign.
Ramos embodies all that is Real Madrid and Madridismo− passion, drive, leadership, a never say die, leave-it-all-out-on-the-pitch-kind-of-attitude. Losing Ramos would in essence mean Madrid losing its soul. Who could possibly replace Ramos at Real Madrid? Varane is undoubtedly the now of Real Madrid and I certainly expect him to be a regular under Benitez but alongside him should be Ramos. Pepe is aging and despite his two relatively calm seasons under Ancelotti he is still a risk even more so than Ramos. The only other replacement that would make sense is Mats Hummels and he has categorically stated his desire to remain in Dortmund and has so far only drawn serious interest from Manchester United. Mats aside, the names being circulated in the media are ludicrous. Mustafi isn’t a bad player but he is young and inexperienced, that means he will need time to adjust playing at such a high level, under pressure. Illaramendi is testament to that. Bonucci isn’t in the same class as Ramos, his ability in the air is questionable and his tackling is shady. Real Madrid’s defence is akin to a dixie cup with a small hole poked at the bottom− you pour water in and it leaks. Ramos is the man who cleans that mess up. Adding Bonucci to that back line would be like cutting out the bottom of the dixie cup.
Maybe Ramos is angling for more money, maybe he is− like the stories mentioned in the media− annoyed with the termination of Ancelotti or the other various reports we’ve heard. Whatever it is Perez needs to act like the president of a football club for once and realise that Real Madrid needs Ramos more than he needs the club and should therefore ensure that Ramos is very content in Madrid.