Arguably two of the biggest summer surprises in football surround one player. Omitted from the Spain squad selected by national team boss Luis Enrique, 35-year-old Sergio Ramos also found himself bidding farewell to Real Madrid. The player and his former club were unable to reach an agreement over a new contract.
Although it’s true that Ramos wasn’t 100% fit ahead of Euro 2020, his recovery was progressing at a blistering pace, which suggested he still had plenty to offer Spain at the tournament. Even more interesting, not one single Real Madrid player formed part of the Spanish selection, much to the ire of their fans.
After drawing their opening encounter 0-0 against Sweden in Seville, followed by another draw against Poland, there are clearly doubts about how far Spain can go. According to the latest betting on UEFA Euro 2020, their odds are now 17/2, which clearly shows that this is a team in a state of transition. The team led by Luis Enrique is no longer considered amongst the tournament favourites.
For such a competitive figure as Ramos, watching from home and being able to do nothing to help must be hugely frustrating. This is a player who has won two European Championship titles and the World Cup with his country, since making his international debut in 2005. He is a born leader who has also amassed 180 caps for Spain, which is unlikely to ever be matched.
Ramos has often been the saviour for Spain and Real Madrid. His leadership qualities are sorely missed, both in the changing room and out on the pitch. Ramos has always been a defensive keystone, while his attacking contributions have also been vital. Ramos is famed for taking responsibility at the penalty spot, not to mention his fearsome power getting forward for corners and free kicks. He is the most prolific scoring centre-back in Spanish history.
Starting from next season, Real Madrid will undoubtedly note the absence of Ramos. During the course of 16 seasons after arriving from hometown club Sevilla, few can doubt that Ramos has consistently been one of the best central defenders in world football. He departs with a body covered in tattoos, many of which depict the multitude of honours won at Real Madrid.
The current situation facing Ramos is one he certainly isn’t accustomed to, finding himself without either a spot in the Spanish national team or a club, having now become a free agent. Ramos insisted upon a two-year contract extension, while Real Madrid supremo Florentino Perez was only prepared to offer a single year. Apparently, the deadline for that offer had expired by the time Ramos finally agreed.
“I’ve never wanted to leave Real Madrid, I’ve always wanted to stay,” Ramos explained with sincerity at his farewell press conference, clearly emotional about leaving the club where he had won so many domestic and continental titles. When quizzed about potential destinations, “I don’t know if I will be returning to Spain,” the only hint regarding his future.
Having spent his entire career in Spain, starting out at Sevilla before the career-defining move to Real Madrid in 2005, playing in another country will inevitably be strange for Ramos. After so much time at one of the biggest and most successful clubs in world football, playing elsewhere may be something of an anticlimax. That said, wherever he lands, Ramos will certainly be a huge asset.
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