|Where Is Ramires’ Best Position?
Ramires won the hearts of many Chelsea fans last season with his energy and goals. He was superb at times, and it was great to see him finally getting the credit he deserves. But with the addition of three attacking players and arguably more to come, where does Ramires feature in di Matteo’s plans this season?
Well its worth remembering Ramires was brought to Chelsea to play primarily as a central/defensive midfielder. He enjoyed fine spells for the club last season, before operating as a make-shift right winger under the management of Roberto di Matteo, playing a crucial role in the side’s FA cup and Champions League runs. But let’s not forget that before Ramires’ change to the right flank, the Brazilian was having a fantastic season in centre midfield, joining Mata and Sturridge as Chelsea’s early season performers. His skill, work rate and energy were apparent. This is why Ramires could emerge as a potential partner for Lampard in Chelsea’s midfield pivot. He is quick, loves a tackle and has bundles of stamina.
Naturally not a wide player, Ramires played in Centre Mid for Benfica before he moved to Chelsea in 2010, so there is no question about his ability to play there. He is at his best when charging from a box-to-box, as this allows him to showcase both his defensive and attacking abilities perfectly. This is why I think Ramires could provide the perfect partner for Lampard in midfield, okay Ramires may lack the physique of Mikel, but he is taller than Makelele was.
His defensive discipline shouldn’t be a problem as he has played DM for Brazil, while he showed on many occasions when playing RW that he can do a defensive job, as it was often his responsibly to track the runs of offensive full backs. He also has played at right back on occasions too. While I agree he loves a dribble (no Chelsea play completed more last season), he could still have the freedom to do this, as Chelsea defend deep, It just means Lampard will have to cover and vice visa.
Man City played with Yaya Toure and Rodwell in CM this weekend, while United fielded Scholes and Cleverly none of them you typical holding midfielder’s. So here is the question, does a team like Chelsea really need a defensive player like Mikel to play every game? Mancini and Sir Alex certainly don’t seem to think so. Instead there centre midfielder’s share both the defensive and attacking responsibilities, while covering when needed, I can’t see a reason why Ramires and Lampard can’t do the same?
A return to central midfield could be brilliant for Ramires and Chelsea, as that is where I think he plays best. As a winger he played well and scored vital goals, but only managed to complete 3 successful crosses out of an attempted 44, highlighting his flaws as a wide player.
However when you look at Ramires defensive statistics, you’ll be surprised. He was Chelsea’s top tackler last season with 2.8 per game as well as averaging 1.9 interceptions per game; this is almost double compared to Mikel (1.6) last season. His tackling per game puts him on level with Tiote (2.8) and just below Song (2.9) and Fellaini (2.9). He was also ahead of Barry (2.5) who played in a similar defensive role last season. This certainly shows that Ramires could do the job if Di Matteo trusted him with a more disciplined central role.
Furthermore his distribution wasn’t too bad either; he has the 53rd highest pass accuracy (85.1%) in the Premier League last season which wasn’t helped by the high number of crosses he misplaced. It may not be higher than Chelsea’s best passer Mikel (90%), but it does but him in ahead of other centre midfielder’s like Milner, Alex Song and Raul Meireles, again highlighting his ability to perform in a more central role.
Maybe Ramires will feature centrally once Chelsea complete the signings of more attacking players Moses or Hulk. This could also explain why Chelsea didn’t bid for the likes of Modric and Rodwell.
However this does not mean I’m disregarding Ramires from right wing, as I can see him playing there again, especially when Chelsea are playing against tougher opposition. Ramires has shown he is a fantastic defensive option on wing, who is happy to defend when others may be less inclined to track back. The point I’m making is that Chelsea should be looking to keep the ball, like United and Man City do. When we play tougher teams where a more a defensive approach is needed then clearly Mikel is a logical option, for everything else we have Ramires and Lampard.