Gaston Ramirez Exhibits his Skills at Middlesbrough
5th December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
Although Middlesbrough’s exquisitely talented attacking midfielder, Gaston Ramirez, tends to blow hot and cold, when he’s on, there’s not too many better creators around.
Boro manager, Aitor Karanka, knows this better than most, recently musing: “When Gastón plays well, it makes a big difference to us.”
Last weekend’s clash with reigning champions, Leicester City, was certainly one of those nights where he was right on top of his game. Despite Middlesbrough succumbing to a late Islam Slimani penalty to draw 2-2, the Uruguayan international displayed why his imaginative passing and dribbling skills are so vital to his side going forward.
Deployed out on the left wing, the 26-year-old injected a much needed degree of incision and guile into his team’s work in the final third. Being such a technical master with the ball at his feet, in combination with his poise and vision, saw him able to persistently create chances with his aptitude in these regards. Moreover, his extraordinary dribbling ability ensured he went by his direct opponent, Danny Simpson, on many occasions, in a match where his unpredictability saw him comfortably win his duel with the Englishman.
His assist for Alvaro Negredo’s opener provided a glowing example of his quality. Here, after staying wide on the left, he afforded himself the opportunity to receive the ball in an isolation situation with Simpson. Ramirez relishes such a 1v1 battle and he duly got the better of his marker before weighing up his options thoughtfully. He could’ve whipped in an unimaginative cross, but instead the former Bologna ace calmly passed the ball perfectly into the path of Negredo. The horizontal cut-back was so good, in fact, that the big Spaniard didn’t even have to break stride, knocking the ball home first time in one smooth motion.
Ramirez’s desire to drift infield whenever the chance presented itself added some vital variation and additional confusion for Simpson. With Ramirez’s preferred position being in the 10 slot, he unsurprisingly enjoyed plenty of success with his tactic, as his spatial awareness, sublime control in confined spaces and ability to weave his way out of trouble saw him able to persistently manufacture openings for the away side. Indeed, upon parlaying his imposing, strong 183cm frame, and it’s easy to see the elusive attacker was so resistant to Claudio Ranieri’s men’s pressure.
After another strong body of work from the Fray Bentos born trequartista, he’s justifiably feeling right at home within Karanka’s squad. After battling injuries and form issues during his time at Southampton and Hull City, it’s been a case of third club lucky at Boro in his adventures in England. Having plenty of fellow Spanish speakers, including Negredo, Victor Valdes, Antonio Barragan, Adama Traore and obviously Karanka has unquestionably helped too.
“Being at the Boro is like being part of a family; you feel at home and that’s very important. When I signed in the summer [a long-term, free transfer deal following last January’s loan from Southampton] I had a feeling I was in the right place. I’m enjoying it here.”
Under Karanka, a manager who trusts him and knows precisely how to get the best out of him, Ramirez’s time at Boro is certainly working out to be a match made in heaven.
After being an instrumental figure in Boro’s promotion campaign last season while on loan from Southampton, it was a no-brainer for the club when the opportunity arose to sign him for free in the summer.
With Boro’s main objective to avoid the drop this season, you can guarantee Ramirez’s creativity and quality will be hugely important if they’re to achieve their objective of staying up.
There’s no better place to show his class when he faces off against one of his former clubs in Hull City on Monday night, a time in his career that he doesn’t remember fondly at all, lamenting: “Hull was a very hard year because of my injury – I had a bad pelvis. I was training and playing with pain the whole time. It wasn’t good.”
The stage is certainly set for him to exhibit all his silky skills under the bright lights of Monday night football in front of an appreciative home crowd at the Riverside.
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