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What next for Gaston?
It’s been quite a nine months in the lives of the Premier League’s two top Uruguayan stars.
Luis Suarez and Gaston Ramirez will come face-to-face at Anfield on Saturday – but not on the pitch.
There is no chance of that happening because Liverpool striker Suarez will be serving the last game of his lengthy ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
In the same fixture last December, both Suarez and Ramirez started for their respective sides as Liverpool edged a 1-0 win, and both were rising stars of the top flight.
During the intervening period, Suarez has starred on the field – scoring more than 20 goals last season – picked up the ban and pushed for a move away from Liverpool to join Arsenal, only to end up remaining with the Reds.
His good friend and international teammate Ramirez has enjoyed less of the limelight.
Thankfully, perhaps, when it comes to the controversy stakes – but not so much when it comes to the impact on the pitch.
While Suarez’s return next week will be warmly greeted by Liverpool, and no doubt with an immediate first team recall, Ramirez is battling away to get any sort of a foothold at Saints.
Whereas at times last season it felt as if Ramirez was a likely starter because of the money Saints had spent, and that they only saw him playing that floating attacking role, the club have moved on and bought more players for even more money.
With the club having played well at the start of this season but struggled for goals, and Ramirez having not yet been looked upon as the man to draft in to change that, he may be questioning how he can force his way back in.
Ramirez has been restricted to appearances off the bench this season. In fact, he hasn’t made a Premier League start for Saints since he scored in the 1-1 draw with West Ham back in April.
The best position for Ramirez is clear – in the hole behind Rickie Lambert. With his skill set, and the high tempo pressing game Pochettino likes to employ, it’s hard to see how he can fit in anywhere else without drastically changing his game, which of course could mean sacrificing some of what Saints paid all that money for in the first place.
He may well be first reserve for that role but it seems clear that, for now at least, Pochettino wants to play both Lambert and Osvaldo together.
As long as that is the case, there appears no room for Ramirez.
In fairness to Ramirez, he deserved to be given some leeway last season as he settled into life in English football. The trouble, from his point of view, is that the club have kept moving forward – and he’s now trying to catch up.
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