Aaron Ramsey has described Brennan Johnson’s potential as “scary” but admits he was unhappy to see his Wales team-mate join Tottenham on transfer deadline day.
Ramsey spent 11 years in north London at Arsenal where he made 370 nearly appearances and twice scored FA Cup final-winning goals for the Gunners.
The 32-year-old midfielder left Arsenal in 2019 and had spells at Juventus and Nice before rejoining his first club Cardiff this summer.
But having linked up with Wales for their crunch Euro 2024 qualifier in Latvia, Ramsey showed his Arsenal loyalties run deep when he said of forward Johnson’s £47.5million move from Nottingham Forest on Friday: “I wish it weren’t to Tottenham.
“For him it’s a brilliant move. The potential he has is quite scary and hopefully he can take those next steps and go to the next level.
“He’s going to be important for Wales as well. He’s going to be huge for us over the years to come and we’re all excited that he has another platform to go on and improve himself again.”
Wales play South Korea in a Cardiff friendly on Thursday before the more serious part of their September double-header in Riga next Monday.
Defeats to Armenia and Turkey in June have left Wales with a mountain to climb to automatically qualify for the Euro 2024 finals in Germany next summer, piling the pressure on manager Rob Page into the bargain.
Wales have won only once during a 12-game run that saw them fail to win a game and score only once – a Gareth Bale penalty – at their first World Cup appearance for 64 years.
That 1-0 victory came against Group D whipping boys Latvia in Cardiff in March.
Skipper Ramsey said: “We are all behind the gaffer as what he has done has been quite remarkable coming into the job in the circumstances that he did.
“We’ve got to a European Championship and a World Cup and now we have to go through a transitional period, which are always tricky at times.
“We have lost some big players and it was always going to be difficult. But now we’ve got an opportunity to bounce back and we know what we have to do.
“We’ve been in this position before. We had to take it to the Hungary game in the last European Championship and hopefully this will be a similar case.”
Ramsey says he is feeling the benefits of family life after returning to hometown club Cardiff.
He said: “I just feel like there has been a weight lifted off my shoulders, I am feeling a lot more free and I think that definitely helps going onto the pitch.
“It has been difficult being away from the family over the last 18 months, you need that balance right to be able to enjoy every aspect.”
Asked about the impending school run he will be undertaking, Ramsey said: “I’m looking forward to that, having three boys screaming in the car in the morning.
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) September 4, 2023
“I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in to being a family again.”
Tom Lockyer has withdrawn from the Wales squad with a thigh injury.
Luton defender Lockyer had been named in the squad for the first time since collapsing in May’s Sky Bet Championship final and undergoing surgery to address an irregular heartbeat.