A warm climate, charming forests, the picturesque Plage Beau Rivage, and enough Irish bars to pour a pint of Guinness for the entire planet, all on your doorstep, Nice is often seen as a place where you can just get away from it all.
However, Aaron Ramsey’s summer move to the Ligue 1 giants is certainly no relaxing pre-retirement getaway. After a troubling three years at Juventus and a loan spell at Rangers that concluded with him missing the crucial penalty in the Europa League final, the former Arsenal midfielder moved to the ambitious French side in the summer transfer window.
It is a fascinating move very few players from our aisles would ever consider making. But after the frustrating period of his career, proceeding his departure from Arsenal, Ramsey appeared calm, relaxed, and most importantly, settled, when he sat down for the video call.
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“Yes,” Ramsey said quickly, when asked if he has finally found the stability he has been searching for. “Obviously it is an interesting project to be a part of.
“The vision of where the club wants to go, it is not going to happen overnight. There is a bit of progression there. Hopefully I can get that here.”
After coming off the bench to score on his debut against Toulouse for Lucien Favre’s side, Ramsey has had a steady integration into French football. Frustrating injuries, that plagued his time with the Gunners and Juventus, have reared their ugly head on some occasions, restricting him to two League appearances in Nice’s last five matches.
However, this is not unusual for a player, competing at the elite level of European football. The Welshman is certainly hopeful and optimistic about his time with the French giants, who currently reside in 13th position in the table.
So often ridiculed and labelled a ‘farmer’s league’ by football fans all across the continent, Ramsey’s experience of life across the English channel does not correspond with those tired cliches of French football, and he isn’t having any suggestion it’s a ‘weak’ league. “I have been very impressed with the division,” Ramsey added.
“I think it has been very technical and very physical. I have been impressed. There is a lot of very talented players and good teams playing at the top of Europe. The league is definitely very impressive.
“It’s very athletic, which suits my game a little bit as well. It is quite open at times, teams are attacking each other, so it is very exciting.” But while Ramsey is in the process of aiding a Nice revolution, funded by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the richest man in Britain, another renaissance is taking place at Ramsey’s old club.
Mikel Arteta ’s Arsenal side are continuing to blossom into a side capable of pushing for the Premier League title. Victory for the Gunners away to Southampton will see the north Londoners reinstate their four point lead over second placed Manchester City.
Despite the brilliance of Pep Guardiola’s side and the mercurial Erling Haaland, Arteta’s men keep on churning out results at a rate of knots. Amazon offered the football world a fascinating insight into Arteta’s managerial methods with their ‘All or Nothing’ documentary, chronicling Arsenal’s campaign last season.
Clips of Arteta serenading, and at times, baffling, the Arsenal players with wide-ranging anecdotes about his lifestyle or the things elite football teams have in common with light bulbs were put on full display at the start of the season. However, having shared an Arsenal dressing room with Arteta when the Gunners’ manager was still playing for the north Londoners, Ramsey claimed he always knew the Spaniard would take the steps into management.
“Yea, there were no light bulbs in them speeches,” Ramsey laughed, when asked if any Arteta speeches stuck out in his memory. “You knew that Mikel was very passionate, he is all in, and he tries to extract every ounce out of you. I knew that about his character and his personality.