By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsene Wenger has been urged to build the Arsenal midfield around Aaron Ramsey by the Welshman’s former team-mate Craig Bellamy.
Ramsey is set to be handed another rare start in central midfield for the Gunners’ must-win Champions League clash at Olympiakos on Wednesday night.
The 24-year-old has been used predominantly on the right flank over the last 12 months but Bellamy is convinced that his countryman is far more effective bursting from central midfield.
Bellamy, who retired from football last year and is keen to go into management, accepts that Ramsey is too attack-minded to play as one of two deep-lying central midfielders but would go one step further and demote Mesut Ozil in order to play Ramsey as one of a midfield three.
“Aaron wants to get forward but for me has to play in a [midfield] three,” Bellamy told Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football programme. “He has to be in the centre. If you ask him to sit [deep] you restrict a lot of his game.”
Ozil has been Arsenal’s outstanding player this season operating from a central playmaking role but Bellamy would axe the German or shift him to a wide role.
“Ozil has played left at certain times,” explained Bellamy. “It’s not just me being biased. I have known Aaron since he was five years of age. I would play him central before I would play Ozil.
“It might be a difficult statement at this moment because of Ozil’s (form), but I feel personally watching his game and watching him develop over the last couple of years that he is one of the top central players in world football when he’s fit and he proved that last summer when Barcelona wanted him. This summer if Arsenal wanted to sell then top clubs would want him, because he’s that good.
‘He wants to score, always looks to break the lines and he’s a good finisher as well. I felt before his injury (in 2013-14) he was the best player in the Premier League, last year he was stop and start with injuries but if he can just get rid of that he will be one of the best in the Premier League.”
Ramsey is set to partner Mathieu Flamini in midfield against Olympiakos as he gets another chance in the centre following the long-term injuries sustained by Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta.