Sergio Ramos has been linked to the Premier League for over a decade. This summer, he will be available as a free agent, due to his failure to agree terms on a new contract with Real Madrid. The appeal of a move is obvious on the surface. The Spanish international is available on a free transfer, which removes the sizeable obstacle of agreeing a transfer fee out of the equation. However, he is now 35-year-old and he played just 20 matches across the two major competitions last season.
The term free transfer may be misleading, as it would require a huge financial package to bring Ramos to England. His wage demands were clearly a stumbling for Real Madrid and these could be even higher for Premier League clubs, due to the known financial strength of the league.
People will point towards the success of Thiago Silva at Chelsea. He moved to Stamford Bridge as a 35-year-old and he had a hugely positive impact on the team. The Blues had defensive issues during the 2019/20 campaign, but they finished the season with the second best record in the Premier League. En route to winning the Champions League, they kept nine clean sheets and Silva’s impact was obvious.
Ramos is a born winner and he will end his career having won nearly every trophy there is to win. He played a role in Spain’s dominance at international level and was at the heart of Real Madrid’s run of four Champions League in five years. The appeal to Manchester United and Manchester City is obvious.
The former want to return to the top table and compete for major honours. They also have an issue at right centre-back, with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly failing to lock down the position for themselves. Ramos would add a winning mentality to their defence and leadership that has sometimes been missing in big matches.
Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola will be desperate to end his draught without a Champions League trophy. He may view Ramos as the perfect addition to add that experience to his team. Ramos wouldn’t be signed to play every week, but he could be a great addition to the squad to play in the big matches. Ruben Dias and John Stones could learn a lot from working alongside the Spaniard.
The advantages of signing Ramos are clear. Aside from his mentality and experience, he is a defender who guarantees goals. He has scored 19 goals in La Liga during the last three seasons, averaging roughly one every four games. Although he takes penalties, the veteran averaged 0.13 non-penalty expected goals every 90 minutes in the previous season. This ranks in the 99th percentile for centre backs.
Ramos likes to swagger forward to join attacks, while he carries a threat from set pieces. He is a great weapon to have in matches against teams setting up with a deep block.
He is very good on the ball, as he often launches attacks from deep. Ramos averages 3.33 progressive passes and 2.92 progressive carries per ninety minutes. This underlines the dual threat he poses on the ball, as he can play penetrative passes and dangerous forward runs with the ball at his feet.
The doubts lie with his capabilities of adapting to the Premier League. His recent injury problems suggest that his body is starting to show wear and tear. Ramos is too good to be a failure, but there have always been errors in his game and increased injury risk will put potential suitors off. His discipline has also been an issue, as he is a frequent collector of yellow and red cards.
Manchester United would look to be the best fit for Ramos. They are still one of the biggest clubs in Europe and they need a reliable option at centre-back to partner Harry Maguire. Last summer, they signed an ageing Edinson Cavani, who had a positive impact on the squad. They may view a similar signing at the back to be beneficial, especially as they attempt to get back to winning trophies.
It is a risk given his big wage demands, but Ramos is one of the most high profile and successful players in the current era. There would be benefits both on and off the pitch.
Stats taken from Whoscored and FBref (powered by Statsbomb)