It’s almost impossible to tell that Ramires is a Brazilian. The laid-back style, the flicks and tricks, the flair, are all absent. At first glance you could even be excused for wondering if the Chelsea man is little more than a bog standard box-to-box midfielder.
But you’d be wrong; so wrong. In fact you couldn’t be more wrong. To me, there is no more valuable player in the Premier League right now than Ramires.
Dubbed ‘O Queniano Azul’ (The Blue Kenyan) by his first club Cruzeiro, it’s always been obvious that Chelsea’s number seven can run. Athletic, lean and built like an Olympic middle distance runner, here is a player that’s always on the move, covering defensively and then bursting forward to spring attacks. All, seemingly, without ever appearing to be out of breath.
Few players in Europe cover as much ground as the 25-year-old does. In fact last season at Stamford Bridge against his former side Benfica in the Champions League quarter-final, the midfielder ran almost seven and a half miles, well clear of the competition’s average.
However, Ramires isn’t just a work horse. He also possesses terrific footballing intelligence.
In just two seasons and a bit here in the UK, we’ve already seen the Brazil international occupy each position across the Chelsea midfield, as an auxiliary full-back, and even as part of a front three. And not once has he looked like a fish out of water.
Chelsea’s most frequent tackler and dribbler last season, Ramires also happens to be a speed merchant with an inner drive which few can match. Oh, and he also has the coolest of heads when presented with a rare goalscoring opportunity; remember the Nou Camp. You just can’t pigeon hole a player with this many talents.
Just as Manchester City relied so heavily on dual-purpose Yaya Toure last season, Roberto di Matteo knows he can ill afford to lose his equivalent, Ramires, in 2012/13.
They are light on back-ups but Chelsea’ front four suddenly picks itself. You have Fernando Torres leading the line, and behind him you couldn’t wish for three more gifted talents in the shape of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard.
Ramires will always offer cover in the wide areas should the Italian boss require more discipline and desire down the flanks but it’s his all-encompassing role in the engine room that I firmly believe will make, or break the Blues’ campaign.
Frank Lampard’s ageing legs and yet-to-be-defined role as Chelsea anchor man raises question marks, as does the often slow and inconsistent John Obi Mikel. Yet, the West Londoners don’t have many alternative partners for the Brazilian in the heart of their midfield.
They don’t have a choice. They need a two-for-the-price-of-one midfielder to carry the ship, and luckily for Roberto di Matteo he has one.
Without Ramires I genuinely fear Chelsea may not be equipped to challenge for the top four. If he stays fit, the Blues have every chance of winning more silverware.
That’s his worth, and that’s why there isn’t a more invaluable Premier League player out there than the strangely unheralded Brazilian that doesn’t play like a Brazilian.
Listen to Adrian on this weeks brilliant Red White and Blue Football Podcast HERE