Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hot Prospect Ramsey set for Arsenal

Aaron Ramsey is to join Arsenal from FA Cup finalists Cardiff City in a £5m cash deal, BBC Sport understands.

Champions League winners Manchester United and Premier League giants Everton were also fighting to sign the 17-year-old Welsh wonderkid.

But Ramsey has signed a three-year deal at Arsenal after they flew him out to Switzerland for face-to-face talks with boss Arsene Wenger at Euro 2008.

Unlike United, the Arsenal deal does not include a loan back option.

Cardiff have confirmed Arsenal's bid for their highly-rated youth academy graduate was the "best cash offer" for the young star.

The deal equals City's transfer fee received record, held jointly alongside Michael Chopra's £5m switch to Sunderland in the summer 2007.

Dave Jones and Aaron Ramsey
Born: December 26, 1990 in Caerphilly
Position: Midfielder
Club: Cardiff City (22 games, 2 goals)
Height: 5ft 10ins
Weight: 12st
Did you know?: Ramsey was an excellent rugby player and played on the wing for Caerphilly
Cardiff striker Steve Thompson on "Rambo": We call him Marge Simpson because his hair is a proper thatch - and his first car is a luminous, lime green Ford Fiesta with a black and white checkerboard roof. If he goes to the Premier League, the car will have to go!

Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale, who accepted bids from Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton, told BBC Sport: "It is a very straightforward, no strings attached £5m cash offer - simple.

"We felt that Manchester United equalled it because it included a loan back option."

Ramsey, who has made just 22 appearances for the Championship side, is expected to have a medical at Arsenal's plush Hertfordshire training ground within the next few days.

A Cardiff City statement read: "Cardiff City were informed on Tuesday morning that Aaron Ramsey's preferred destination this summer is the Emirates Stadium with Arsenal.

"We will now continue the dialogue with the Gunners with a view to Aaron's move being completed.

"The move, unlike other options, does not include a loan back period at Ninian Park for the 2008/09 season.

"We would like to wish Aaron every success in the top-flight."

Ramsey, the most wanted player outside the Premier League, spoke to Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on the telephone as initially Premier League champions United looked favourite to sign him.

United even put a statement on their website on 3 June, announcing: "Manchester United is delighted to announce it has agreed terms with Cardiff City for the transfer of Aaron Ramsey subject to terms being agreed and the player passing a medical."

Cardiff made no secret of the fact they wanted Ramsey to join United to take advantage of the loan-back agreement.

The Welsh Under-21 international met Everton manager David Moyes before being flown out on a private jet to Basel on Saturday to meet with Wenger, who has now beaten his old rival Ferguson to landing Ramsey.

But Ridsdale said: "We would have much preferred him to remain as a Cardiff City player or returned here on loan next season had he gone somewhere else.

"The only deal with a loan-back option was with Manchester United but ultimately it is up to the player to decide where he wants to go.

"In an ideal world I would have wished him to go to Manchester United were to he to leave us but we have to be careful as we have relationships with Arsenal and want to do business with them in the future."

Ramsey caught Arsenal's eye when the young midfielder shone in a goal-scoring display during Cardiff's FA Youth Cup quarter-final defeat to the Gunners in February 2007.

He beat John Toshack's record to become Cardiff's youngest ever player at just 16 years and 124 days when Ramsey replaced Paul Parry in a 1-0 home defeat to Hull City in April 2007.

The player known as 'Rambo' was included in Toshack's Wales squad for the first time this summer for their friendly double-header with Iceland and the Netherlands but Ramsey didn't play.

Ramsey - hailed as "sensational" by Wales youth guru Brian Flynn - is one of a crop of promising Welsh youngsters tipped for the big-time.

Cardiff boss Dave Jones has hailed Ramsey's versatility as the teenager has played in his favoured central midfield role, on each flank, at full-back and also in a free role behind the striker this season.

Ramsey, his former Cardiff colleague Joe Ledley, Tottenham's Gareth Bale, Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey and West Ham midfielder Jack Collison have been earmarked as Wales' stars of the future by Wales boss Toshack.

The Caerphilly-born playmaker is the latest off the Cardiff production line of players to move to the Premier League following Chris Gunter, Danny Gabbidon, James Collins and Rob Earnshaw into the top league.

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