Arsenal win race for Ramsey
© AFP

Arsenal have won the race to sign Welsh starlet Aaron Ramsey from Cardiff City as Arsene Wenger on Tuesday beat off competition from Manchester United and Everton.

Ramsey, 17, looked set to join United when the European champions announced they had agreed a £5 million pounds (7.7 million dollars) fee with Cardiff for the midfielder, who has been compared to Liverpool star Steven Gerrard.

However, Cardiff also accepted bids of the same amount from Arsenal and Everton and the Championship club claimed on Tuesday that the Wales U-21 international has opted to move to the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal reportedly clinched the deal by flying Ramsey to Switzerland for talks with Wenger, who is working for a French television channel at UEFA EURO 2008.

"Cardiff City were informed on Friday morning that Aaron Ramsey's preferred destination this summer is at the Emirates Stadium with Arsenal," a statement on Cardiff's website said. "We will now continue the dialogue with the Gunners with a view to Aaron's move being completed."

Cardiff's United preference
Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale admitted he would have prefered United's deal that allowed Ramsey to return to the club on loan for a season.

However, Ramsey clearly believes he will have the best to develop into a world class player under Wenger. The Frenchman has turned the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas and Kolo Toure into global stars and Ramsey could be the latest.

"We would have much preferred him to remain as a Cardiff City player or returned here on loan next season had he gone somewhere else," Ridsdale told BBC Sport. "The only deal with a loan-back option was with Manchester United but ultimately it is up to the player to decide where he wants to go.

"In an ideal world I would have wished him to go to Manchester United were to he to leave us, but we have to be careful as we have relationships with Arsenal and want to do business with them in the future. It is a very straightforward, no strings attached £5 million cash offer - simple."

Ramsey is the youngest player in Cardiff's history after making his debut aged 16 against Hull in April 2007. He sprang to prominence with impressive cameo roles for the Bluebirds in their run to the FA Cup final, where he made a 30 minute appearance in the 1-0 defeat to Portsmouth.