Keeping Ramsey would have been harmful, says Arsenal chief Sanllehi

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Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi admits the club were wrong to let Aaron Ramsey’s contract run down – but insists keeping the midfielder would have been ‘harmful’ to the team in the ‘medium and longer term’.

The Gunners’ long-serving midfielder Ramsey, 28, will join Juventus on a free transfer, eventually agreeing his £400,000-per-week switch after seeing a contract offer from the Gunners withdrawn.

Sanllehi explained that Arsenal effectively couldn’t compete with the lucrative wage offers the Welshman was getting from elsewhere knowing he would be a free agent and eventually had to let him leave to avoid causing disruption in the dressing room.

He said: “We had to be responsible for ourselves and protect the interests of Arsenal. We realised we were going to cause an imbalance that would have been harmful for the team’s sake in the medium and longer term.”

When asked, Sanllehi conceded that an ‘error’ had been made allowing Ramsey’s contract to run down and that is a situation Arsenal ‘cannot’ let happen in the future with players they wish to keep and ‘if we cannot get a renewal before that we may have to sell’.

He added: “The position of the club, of losing a player of the quality — not only the football quality but the human quality and club identification — of Aaron, we have to avoid that. It’s not correct for us.”

Arsenal chiefs are confident, meanwhile, that failure to qualify for the Champions League next week won’t dent the club’s ability to attract top players and that it will remain ‘strong enough’ even if they miss out.

Sanllehi said: “Fortunately the image of Arsenal is strong enough. We are a reference in the football world, so when Arsenal knocks on the door of players it’s a different knock than other clubs. Of course, the fact that we have not been in the Champions League for two years and we are in question marks now for the next year, that’s not helpful.”

“But again, the image of Arsenal is strong enough to help us build a case about all the model we are bringing up, the new era that we are bringing up. It’s very exciting.”

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