After being dropped from the Brazil national side, Ramires has finally received the recall that a lot of Chelsea fans will be considering overdue.
Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari left the Chelsea midfielder out of his Confederations Cup winning squad in the summer following an apparent mix up over his fitness between Chelsea and the national side.
Ramires is now 26 and entering his fourth full season with Chelsea, but this time he is entering it as one of the first names on the team sheet. The Brazilian arrived at Chelsea from Portuguese side Benfica for a fee of £18million in 2010.
In his first couple of seasons he often found himself being deployed on the right side of midfield so that Chelsea could take advantage of his blistering pace and dribbling skills.
His second season at the club will be his most memorable so far; a season in which he scored the opening goal in the FA Cup final, which Chelsea then went on to win, scoring a magical chip against Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League to help Chelsea reach the final, which they won, and being voted Chelsea’s Players’ Player of the Year.
Last season, with the arrival of Oscar and Eden Hazard, who joined Juan Mata in a formidable midfield three, we began to see Ramires used more as a central midfielder playing behind the attacking three alongside either Frank Lampard or John Obi Mikel.
This is where he has impressed most. He doesn’t have the freedom to score as many goals as he did playing as a part of the attacking midfield three, but his speed and endless amounts of stamina make him a difficult opponent to get past.
Ramires appears to spend a lot more of his time around the centre circle than he does deep in the final third. He also seems to favour short passes into the likes of Hazard and Oscar, rather than going for a killer pass. His pass completion rate for this season so far is 90%, which is one of the highest in Europe.
On Monday night his performance against Manchester United was the epitome of his evolution as a player. Wherever the threat was Ramires seemed to be there to chase down a ball, or to cover and allow Frank Lampard to go forward.
He was also often seen covering for the full backs Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole. Ramires will still get forwards, there’s no doubt about that.
When the ball is in front of him and he is running at a defender full pelt, there is rarely a more frightening site – it’s similar to the way Patrick Viera used to charge through the pitch with the ball in front of him for Arsenal.
Going forward is no longer all he can offer; he is now a more rounded and complete player.
At the moment Mourinho has found out how to bring the best out of the midfielder, and that is certainly be keeping in the centre of the park to conserve the already full tank of energy he has for the final moments of the game if they need him to enter the attack.
His recall to the Brazil side is well deserved, and well overdue. But at club level he is definitely turning into one of Chelsea’s most reliable unsung heroes under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho.
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