Friday 14 September 2012
Southampton’s record signing Gaston Ramirez is poised to make his first appearance for the Barclays Premier League new-boys when they take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Saints beat a host of leading European clubs to complete the signing of the exciting 21-year-old attacking midfielder from Italian side Bologna at the end of the summer transfer window.
With the Uruguay midfielder set to make his English top-flight bow this weekend, premierleague.com has asked two football experts for the lowdown on "El Nino".
"He will have to adapt quickly to the pace of the Premier League but his quick thinking will surely help"
Born in Fray Bentos on the border of Argentina and Uruguay, Ramirez began his career with Montevideo club Penarol and helped them to win the Primera Division in 2009/10.
He was signed by Bologna in 2010, scoring four goals in his first season, before making his mark last year, scoring eight goals as the side secured a ninth-place finish in Serie A.
Paolo Menicucci, a Milan-based football journalist, said: "After joining in Bologna as a left-sided midfielder labelled in his country as the new Pavel Nedved, the club quickly understood that a player with that left foot, technique and sense for goal should have played closer to the opponent's box.
"He showed flashes of talent during his first season at the Dall'Ara stadium but the following campaign he was a key player of the Bologna side which surprisingly finished in mid-table playing alongside former West Ham attacking midfielder Alessandro Diamanti in support of a lone striker Marco Di Vaio.
"Most of his eight goals were real beauties, a back-heel volley against Fiorentina arguably the best of all. Just to show how feared he was by Serie A defences he was the player with the most fouls against in the whole Serie A campaign."
Menicucci says that one thing against Ramirez could be his lack of pace. "He will have to adapt quickly to the pace of the Premier League but his quick thinking will surely help," he said.
Ramirez also has experience on the international stage having played for Uruguay U20s and winning nine caps for the senior side.
He played in this summer's London Olympic Games and scored a superb free kick in Uruguay's 2-1 victory over the United Arab Emirates.
Ramirez has joined a Southampton side who have had a tough start to their Barclays Premier League return against champions Manchester City and Manchester United in their opening three matches.
Although they have yet to earn a point, they led against both Manchester clubs and their positive approach has earned the side and manager Nigel Adkins many plaudits.
The signing of Ramirez is a statement of intent from the South Coast club as they aim to maintain their Premier League status and Rupert Fryer, editor of www.southamericanfootball.co.uk, says his capture is a "major coup" for Saints.
"Ramirez boasts a wonderful left foot and will be a constant danger from set-pieces," he told premierleague.com. "He strikes the ball extremely well from distance, has a great eye for a pass, and possesses the poise and technique required to execute them.
"If allowed time and space in the final third, he can be devastating"
"He has great close control, likes to run at his defender, and was fifth in Serie A's completed dribbles chart last season. He also developed a keen eye for goal.
"If afforded the freedom to express himself, he could prove to be a match-winner for the Saints, and will likely evoke memories of Matthew Le Tissier."
Ramirez is one of seven new signings made by Adkins over the summer. The additions have given the Southampton manager plenty of options for his starting line-up and Fryer believes that when Ramirez does take to the field, he will be utilised down the flank.
"I would be surprised if Nigel Adkins allows him to operate in his preferred position behind a striker at the tip of a midfield triangle," added Fryer. "I expect him to be deployed wide – the position in which he started his career - with the option to cut inside.
"He has the ability to make a success of himself in England, and is young enough to make the necessary adjustments to his game. If allowed time and space in the final third, he can be devastating."