Aaron Ramsey has held talks with Arsene Wenger about why he has been overlooked for a central midfield role this season, Football Insider sources understand.
The Wales international has started only one competitive match this season in his preferred position after spending the second half of last season predominantly on the right flank.
Regular pairing Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla, as well as veteran duo Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta, have all been selected ahead of Ramsey in central midfield this season.
Sources have said that Ramsey has spoken privately with Wenger over the last week to find out where he figures positionally in the manager’s thinking.
[nextpage title=”Next page”]
It is understood that the manager has told Ramsey that he needs to be convinced the player is able to handle the defensive responsibilities that a deeper role entails.
The 24-year-old has been used predominantly on the right of the trio of attacking midfielders behind the Arsenal centre-forward in this calendar year.
He started alongside Coquelin for the Premier League opening-day clash against West Ham but Arsenal lost that match and Ramsey has not played since in central midfield, even though Jack Wilshere has been sidelined through injury.
Even when Cazorla and Coquelin missed the Gunners’ 2-1 Capital One Cup win over Tottenham last week and Ramsey was moved inside, he was deployed in the No10 role behind striker Olivier Giroud.
It is a blow for Ramsey, who thrived in central midfield during the opening half of 2013-14 before the first of a series of injuries halted his progress.
He made it clear during the summer that he wanted to “get my place back in the middle” and added: “That’s what I’ll be looking to do. That’s where I think my best position is, that’s where I feel comfortable. Obviously, I did a job for the manager, which he asked me to do at the end of last season and, hopefully, I can get back in there, stay fit and healthy and have a good year.”
Ramsey, who has started all seven of Arsenal’s Premier League matches this season but neither of the team’s Champions League fixtures, is expected to return to the starting line-up for Sunday’s showdown against Manchester United.