ramos

Cristiano Ronaldo is the club talisman, Iker Casillas the club stalwart, Gareth Bale the most expensive player in history and Karim Benzema one of world football’s most natural finishers.

It is, however, easy to argue that Sergio Ramos is as important, if not more so, than many of those mentioned above.

He is an integral keystone at Santiago Bernabeu, and removing him from the Real Madrid structure could cause things to collapse.

Ronaldo may be king in the Spanish capital, but there is every reason to believe that Ramos is the crown prince.

For Real’s enviable array of attacking talent to fully express itself, with UEFA competitions betting having them as favourites to defend their continental crown this season, they have to be confident in the ability of those behind them to keep the back door bolted.

In order for that to happen, and for the defensive unit to function properly, someone has to take charge.

Ramos is that man.

Casillas is the skipper and an undisputed club icon, but even he will be looking for the no-nonsense centre-half in front of him to set the tone when it comes to keeping opponents at bay.

Taking all of that into account, Real should be concerned to hear a big part of their plans casting doubt over his future.

Ramos has been quoted as saying during the winter transfer window: “I’m not going to talk about controversial issues. The only thing I will say is that, with every passing day, I prefer the English Premier League.”

Those comments arrived on the back of a Copa del Rey outing against local rivals Atletico Madrid in which he conceded a contentious penalty.

He may be right to suggest that the Premier League may be more welcoming of his combative approach, but Real must ensure that talk of interest from Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea is hastily swept under the carpet.

It could be that Ramos was merely airing his frustration in the heat of the moment, and he has never been one to shy away from a spot of self-promotion.

Reports of tension between the player and members of the board have circulated for some time, so it could be that the 28-year-old is fishing for a response and for his true value to be recognised.

He will know that if he puts his names in the headlines, hinting at a move elsewhere, that pressure will build on Florentino Perez and company to ensure that speculation is quickly quashed.

This is a game of sorts, with a mischievous player prodding those above him in the Real pecking order, looking for a reaction and reinforcement that he is a beloved part of the ‘family’.

Los Blancos have to keep such talent happy, though, whatever it may take. If humouring Ramos is the best way to retain his services, then so be it.

You do not have to cast the mind back far to see how integral he is to the past, present and future, with memorable goals in Champions League and Club World Cup finals ensuring that the name of Sergio Ramos Garcia will be forever etched in Real Madrid folklore.

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