How Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey is on course to join Gareth Bale among world football's elite
Wales' midfield star Aaron Ramsey has enjoyed a superb start to the season and the plaudits are piling up as he comes back to Wales to face the Swans
That is the tag Ramsey has been given by his Arsenal team-mate Carl Jenkinson, who argues there is no finer midfielder on the planet right at this moment in time.
Former Gunners cult figure John Jensen has joined in the plaudits ahead of today’s big clash with Swansea City, saying: “I don’t think he’s the best player in the world right at this moment but if he can continue at this level over the next 10 or 12 games he’ll definitely be up in the top three.”
Little wonder Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, another to sing like a canary this season about Ramsey’s ability, is desperate for his Welsh wonder to pass an 11th hour fitness test ahead of the tea-time clash at the Liberty Stadium.
While headline act Bale has been limited to little more than a couple of impressive cameo appearances thus far for Real Madrid, Ramsey has undoubtedly been Welsh football’s star performer this season.
The London media and national radio shows will drool about Arsenal’s sensational new German capture Mezut Ozil, and understandably so, too.
But the Premier League facts and figures demonstrate that Ramsey is not only very much Arsenal’s kingpin at the moment, but also the finest midfielder in the country.
Bar none, including his highly-trumpeted Gunners team-mate Jack Wilshere, Manchester City colossus Yaya Toure, Manchester United’s £27million capture Marouane Fellaini and in-form Liverpool and Chelsea legend Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.
Much has been made of the fact Ramsey has scored seven goals in his last eight Arsenal appearances, three in the Premier League, four in the UEFA Champions League.
For the record, you can also throw in a goal for Wales in Macedonia, too, making it eight thus far for 2013-14.
Only Robin Van Persie, with six for Manchester United and three for the Netherlands, can boast a better scoring record to date.
Last season, in 52 appearances for club and country, Ramsey managed a total tally of just three goals, so he has already almost tripled that.
But it is his general form , coupled with the goal-getting, which marks him out as the best around at present, including classic midfield characteristics of tackling, touches on the ball and quality of pass.
Image Gallery: Aaron Ramsey's Premier League stats by numbers
GOALS: The three struck by Ramsey put him joint second in the Premier League scoring charts, behind only Olivier Giroud, Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge, who each have four apiece.
None of those have his record in Europe though, where Ramsey has also found the net against Fenerbache (three times) and Marseille as well as for Wales in Macedonia
TACKLES: The 26 tackles Ramsey has made in five Premier League matches, ie winning possession back inside his own half, put him top of the tree with Liverpool’s Lucas.
He averages more than five clean tackles per match, compared to his own tally of two last season.
POSSESSION: Ramsey has an average of 77.4 passes per match, which makes him the best at Arsenal and second only to Toure (79.8 per game) in the whole of the Premier League.
Toure’s tackle ratio, two per match, is down on that of Ramsey.
What the passing stats demonstrate is how Ramsey is controlling matches again, just as he used to do as a precociously talented teenager before breaking his leg at Stoke.
The amount of times he gets on the ball is way ahead of midfield peers such as Gerrard (average 62 passes per game), David Silva (65), Michael Carrick (72) and Fellaini (73).
Ramsey’s average tally last season was 53, so he is clearly dominating proceedings far more this time around.
His passing stats, in fact, put him as one of the finest in Europe, behind only the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Xavi (Barcelona), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona and) Roma’s Daniel de Rossi.
Ramsey’s accuracy with his passing is also impressive, with an 89 per cent success rate of finding a Gunners team-mate with the ball.
He is also shining in the areas of the field that matter, demonstrated by the fact that 198 of the 387 passes Ramsey has thus far made have come in the opposition half of the pitch.
His tally in these offensive positions is followed by Toure (191), Kyle Walker (also 191), Carrick (189) and Fellaini (183).
SHOTS: Ramsey is also way ahead of last season in the number of efforts he is having on goal.
In the first five matches of 2012-13, he had just four shots. This season, that has trebled to 12... and a lot of those efforts are finishing up in the back of the opposition net.
He is not only getting in better positions, but also displaying more composure in front of goal. So why the enormous turnaround? Well, for starters Ramsey is playing in his preferred Wales role of playmaker in the centre of the Arsenal midfield, rather than stuck out on the flank as he was too often last season.
Those close to the player also point out it has taken this time for him to overcome the physical and psychological trauma of his horror injury, as well as dealing with the Gary Speed tragedy.
It was Speed, of course, who gave Ramsey the Wales captaincy and the Arsenal man forged a close bond with his national manager.
What happened was bound to take its toll on a player who was just 20 years of age at the time.
Wales youth gurus have videos of Ramsey going box to box, scoring goals, tackling back and dictating the tempo of matches when he was playing age-grade football for his country.
He started to do that when John Toshack brought him through at senior level and Speed helped hone his game further.
At the age of 22, Ramsey is also beginning to display those ‘complete midfielder’ qualities with Arsenal.
Enjoyed this @DaveHytner piece on Aaron Ramsey's sensational form this season: http://t.co/VrJXQDPgYpSwansea be warned, Ramsey also has an impressive record at the Liberty Stadium.
— Stuart James (@StuartJamesGNM) September 27, 2013
Arguably his finest display in a Wales shirt came there at under-21 level when he led the young Dragons to a 2-1 victory over Italy, scoring a stunning colley in the process.
He produced a man of the match display, scoring again, as Wales defeated Switzerland 2-0 at the Liberty in a Euro qualifier.