Aaron Ramsey is relishing the prospect of playing under Maurizio Sarri at Juventus after witnessing his success at Chelsea last season. The Wales midfielder, 28, has joined Juve from Arsenal on a free transfer.
Chelsea beat the Gunners in style in Sarri’s final game in charge – the Europa League final – having finished third in the Premier League. “I know from this coach, from his time last year in England, he definitely likes to play football,” said Ramsey. Sarri also guided Chelsea to the Carabao Cup final and Ramsey, who missed the Europa League final through injury, believes he can inspire success in Serie A.
“He has his own philosophy and I’m sure all the players here will adapt nicely to that,” said Ramsey. “From what I saw last season he had a very good season for Chelsea – he got to two finals and won one of them. “He got in the top four and that is not easy to do so it was definitely success for him there, but hopefully he can bring his philosophy and style to this team.”
In the footsteps of an icon
One of Ramsey’s personal hopes is to emulate club legend and fellow Welshman John Charles by making a success of his time in Italy.
Former centre-forward Charles, regarded as one of Wales’ greatest players, helped Juventus win three Serie A titles during five prolific years in Turin between 1957 and 1962. “He is an absolute legend over here and for Welsh football,” said Ramsey. “He’s definitely someone I can look up to and hopefully follow in his footsteps.
“He definitely took everything in and left his mark here. I know how much he means to this club and the history he contributed here. “He is a fantastic player and a person I look up to and hope to emulate.” Charles was as accomplished a centre-half as he was a centre-forward, and his exemplary disciplinary record earned him the nickname ‘Il Gigante Buono’ in Italy – the ‘Gentle Giant’.
It was his goalscoring prowess, however, that earned him a move from Leeds United to Juventus in 1957 for a then British record transfer fee of £65,000. Charles was Serie A’s top scorer as he helped Juventus win a league title in his first season and, later in 1958, played a key role for Wales in their only appearance at a World Cup.
Ramsey will not be the first Welshman since Charles to represent the Bianconeri, with former Liverpool striker Ian Rush spending two years there between 1986 and 1988.
There will be high expectations for the former Arsenal midfielder, who signed a pre-contract agreement to move to Turin in February in a deal that will earn him more than £400,000 a week.
“When I knew Juventus were interested I couldn’t refuse as they are a great club, one of the biggest in the world and to have the opportunity to come and play here is a dream,” said Ramsey.
“And to play at the top level is a good challenge for me, to come over and experience a different way of life and a different culture, for me to take that in and embrace that and hopefully everything goes nicely over here.”
Ramsey was speaking at his first media conference as a Juventus player on Monday. In contrast to his Wales team-mate Gareth Bale, whose lack of Spanish has drawn criticism during his time at Real Madrid, Ramsey started with a handful of sentences in Italian.
The former Cardiff City player had been studying the language for weeks in anticipation of his move and plans to continue with his lessons in Turin. Ramsey also confirmed he would wear Juve’s number eight shirt, previously worn by fans’ favourite and Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio. “I wanted the number eight jersey I wore at Arsenal and, when it was free, I had to take it with both hands,” Ramsey added.
“I know Marchisio was an unbelievable player, grew up here, came all the way through and had a fantastic career. I spoke to him a couple of times.
“If I can emulate what he’s brought and done for Juventus, I’ll be pretty proud of that. I’m looking forward to wearing that jersey. I know it comes with responsibility but I’m ready for that as well.”