Why Real Madrid must still keep Sergio Ramos

Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images) /

As contract negotiations between Real Madrid and star center back Sergio Ramos continue to drag on, there are some Madridistas wondering if the club would be better off drawing a hardline stance against Ramos’ demands and simply moving on.

Nacho Fernandez has been a stabilizing veteran presence David Alaba is coming in, and, most importantly, Eder Militao is playing at a level above even Ramos and Raphael Varane recently. Even Victor Chust and Pablo Ramon are sources of optimism from Castilla.

Despite Militao’s phenomenal performances, Real Madrid still need to do what they can to keep Ramos. There is a lot of uncertainty at center back despite Militao’s emergence. For example, Varane could leave with just one year left on his contract at the end of the 2020-2021 season and few positive signs on the re-negotiation front. And then, can Alaba be a Real Madrid-level center back? It’s possible, but he may be a better midfielder or left back.

Ramos offers qualities that nobody else on Los Blancos can…yet. We all know about his goal-scoring exploits from the penalty spot, in the box on set pieces, and even on free kicks. His leadership is legendary. But what truly sets him apart from his teammates and other centre backs around the world is his build-up play.

Sergio Ramos is impossible to replace as a passer

According to WhoScored.com, Sergio Ramos has completed 92.1 percent of his passes for club and country in 2020-2021. That is incredible. What’s even more impressive is that he averages 7.4 long balls per game. He attempts difficult passes at a great distance or under pressure, he attempts over 70 passes per game, and yet he is more accurate than the vast majority of center backs you can think of.

How can you replace that? Alaba is good on the ball, but he completes 86.2 percent of his passes, averages 3.1 long balls per game, and attempts fewer than 70 passes per match. Militao is at 89.7 percent with 4.2 long balls per game and 54.1 passes attempted. So he is somewhere between Ramos and Alaba with the upside to grow at 23 years old.

Real Madrid still need Ramos. They are a better team with him. I think that should be obvious to every Madridista, but it is so, so easy for many fans to forget his greatness. He is one of those players who you take for granted until he is well and truly out of the picture.

PSG will be in hot pursuit of Ramos. That should clue you in to how prized he still is around Europe. Because PSG already have two great center backs in Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe. Yet the Parisians understand that Ramos’ all-around quality as a leader and passer are unparalleled.

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Los Blancos could suffer controlling matches and playing out of the press without Ramos. They could lose some resiliency and clutch goals, too. It’s a huge risk to think that Real are in a position where they can lose an all-time legend and important figure in Ramos, just a couple of years after failing to replace Cristiano Ronaldo.