14th August 2012. Saints are linked with an audacious move for Uruguay wonderkid and London 2012 star Gaston Ramirez. I updated my facebook status accordingly and it took a matter of seconds before the move was labelled as “ridiculous” and “no chance” by friends who support other clubs, particularly Liverpool.
And I have to say, I didn’t necessarily disagree with them, it seemed a little unreal, and as the days passed, it seemed more and more unlikely. I have said before that Twitter is such a good medium for info, and in this case it certainly seemed so, as the updates both positive and negative came from numerous sources. Liverpool fans seemed convinced that Ramirez’ only destination was Anfield, but as other Scouse transfer saga’s unfolded it looks like Liverpool simply didn’t have the financial muscle to sign the playmaker.
Last night at around 18:54 it was finally announced. Gaston is a Saint.
The star of the Uruguayan olympic team, Ramirez really is a coup for Saints, and as Nigel Adkins so succinctly put it “What we have got is one of the most exciting prospects in world football coming to St Mary’s.”
One of the best sources for info on the protracted deal was Italian journalist Daniele Labanti of the Corriere di Bologna, the Corriere della Sera local issue. I was delighted when he agreed to answer some questions on Ramirez.
After a long drawn out transfer, Saints fans will be hoping Ramirez is worth the wait. What did you make of the transfer?
DL:- “It was a very difficult deal because too many parts were involved. Saints, Bologna, Penarol and agents all tried to get the best from the deal. Bologna needed the money and when the club understood Ramirez wanted to go, the Italian club decided to sell him. The first trouble was a interview Ramirez did with Gazzetta dello Sport, talking as a ‘Saint’, just after the agreement with Southampton: Bologna were still in talks with the Saints and the Chairman was very upset with that interview. But then all details were managed and the deal was completed.”
Many Saints fans will have only seen him at the Olympics, what are his strengths and weaknesses?
DL:- “Ramirez is a great young player. As a comparison, he had more impact in Italy than Pastore had in Palermo before they sold him to PSG for €43 million. So we can say Southampton completed a good deal for ‘just’ €14 million. Ramirez can dribble, kick with both feet, is quite speedy and has good stamina. He has to improve his mentality, stop (trash) talking with opponents and referee first.”
He was a big hit at Bologna, do you think he can translate his play to the English game?
DL:- “I definitely believe he could be a star in the Premier League. The English game has more ‘spacing’ than the Italian one and Gaston is quite unstoppable if he can run.”
What other players would you liken him to?
DL:- “I don’t want to be irreverent, but the best case is a sort of Zinedine Zidane.”
Were you surprised to see him end up at a club like Southampton?
DL:- “Yes I was. Rumours told of interest from Liverpool and Tottenham and it was supposed he would join a Champions League/Europa League team. But the Saints offer was so rich and Gaston decided to not wait for a ‘big club’ anymore.”
Many thanks to Daniele for answering these questions and getting me even more excited than I already was!
Gaston Ramirez. You’re Our Guy.
p.s. Up Your’s Mark Lawrenson.