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Thursday 27 September 2012

Player profiles: Wigan's Arouna Kone and Ivan Ramis

Roberto Martinez bought Arouna Kone and Ivan Ramis to replace key players lost in the summer

  • Ramis struck his first goal for the club against West Ham in the Capital One Cup victory

  • Kone has scored twice for Wigan, including against Fulham at the weekend

After losing three of his best players in the transfer window Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez was forced again to scour the market for suitable replacements.

Two of those arrivals, Arouna Kone and Ivan Ramis, made goalscoring contributions in the week, leading to take a closer look at Wigan's two amigos.

Kone scored his second goal for Wigan against Fulham, although it could not prevent a defeat that was made more bitter by Rodallega scoring the first of Fulham's two strikes. But Kone’s contribution suggests he may be able to fill the void left by the 27-year-old Colombian.

"If you cut Kone loose, he can take a bit of pressure off the team"
Graham Hunter

The Ivorian first made his name in Dutch football, but has struggled to fulfil his potential that began with back-to-back Eredivisie titles with PSV Eindhoven in 2006 and 2007. Unfortunately for Kone a move to Sevilla never quite worked out, partly as a result of instability at the La Liga club.

"When I first watched him at Sevilla one of the things that stood out was that he relied heavily on his pace and athleticism," Spanish football expert Graham Hunter told "At that stage he didn't appear to be on the same wavelength as cerebral players like Luis Fabiano, Federic Kanoute, Andres Palop and Seydou Keita.

"That was a thinking man's team and Kone was very raw and instinctive and didn't look comfortable there, but he was unlucky in that when he arrived at the club they were going through a spell when they lost their coaching identity."

A loan move to Hannover ensued but it was not until last season when he rediscovered his form at Levante, scoring 15 goals for the Spanish minnows.

"Last season he was a perfect fit in that Levante team," Hunter says. "They had savvy footballers who knew how to defend, press, keep their shape and not let their guard down. Kone brought them that little bit of raw pace and energy.

"When teams were on top of Levante, who played a bit of rope-a-dope last season, if you cut him loose he could take a little bit of pressure off the team. Then he started to convert more chances as the season went on.

"Kone gives you a chance for a breakaway goal"
Graham Hunter

"Nobody should be looking for an impact like Ba and Papiss Cisse have made at Newcastle, but he can give you an out-ball, he can play down the middle and if you want to play counterattacking football he can play on the wing. In games where his team are bottled in he gives you a chance for a breakaway goal."

With Wigan a club comparable to Levante in terms of means and expectations, they may just have found the right fit in the peroxide blonde 28-year-old.

"There are similarities between Levante in Wigan in terms of their fan base and expectations," said Hunter. "Also at Levante, Jim [Juan Ignacio Martínez] is an extremely detailed, committed and intelligent coach who has got a reputation for being extremely clear in his ideas.

"As a man-manager and motivator he brought more out of everybody in his squad and, if Martinez has got similar qualities, Kone could thrive in the way he did at Levante, as opposed to Sevilla when they went through three coaches in two years."

With Kone drafted in to provide the cutting edge up front Martinez will be hoping his other Liga import will be able to stop them going in at the other end.

A former Spain Under-21 player, Ramis struggled in his first Barclays Premier League match for Wigan, conceding a penalty on Eden Hazard during the 2-0 home defeat by Chelsea, but things have improved and he scored his first goal for his new club against West Ham United in the 4-1 Capital One Cup victory on Tuesday.

"To say that he can bring the ball out and spray passes out from the back like Fernando Hierro would be wrong but he likes to pass the ball and he’s a bit quicker than Gary Caldwell," said Hunter.

"He's good in the air by Spanish standards but one of his big tests will be whether he can thrive when the ball is in the air a lot, as there aren't many Spanish teams who bombard you."

"The more responsibility you give Ramis the happier he’ll be"
Graham Hunter

Unlike Kone, Ramis was a one-club man before being lured to the Barclays Premier League. The central defender spent just one season away from Mallorca, when he was loaned to Rayo Vallecano, but should he adapt to life in Lancashire the Latics will be pleased with a player Hunter compares to one of Arsenal's French internationals.

"He's like a slightly older version of Laurent Koscielny in that he likes to come out with the ball," said Hunter. "Ramis should add a bit of steel; Mallorca were hard to defend against when he was there."

Ramis was one of only seven players to make over 300 blocks, clearances and interceptions in La Liga last season and he helped Mallorca to finish eighth in the league as the side with the second-best defensive home record.

"Last season Wigan were struggling whenever they fell behind so Ramis brings a decent reading of the game and if he's allowed to organise and take on the leadership of the defence he'll enjoy that role," said Hunter. "He's got pace over short distances and the more responsibility you give him the happier he'll be.

"It will be interesting to see how he copes with big, powerful centre-forwards when the ball is delivered in the air, simply because it will be a new test."

Such a test is likely to be faced at the Stadium of Light on Saturday as Ramis comes up against Sunderland's Steven Fletcher, who has four League goals this season.

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Key Points

  • Arouna Kone joined Wigan after a successful season for Levante
  • The 28-year-old can provide an outlet up front for Wigan, says expert Graham Hunter
  • Ivan Ramis is a defender who likes to play the ball out of defence, according to Hunter