According to The Telegraph, Arsenal are considering a move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey when the transfer window opens again in the summer.
The Ghana international, who put in a Man of the Match performance helping Atletico Madrid overcome Liverpool in their Round of 16 Champions League tie last week, is understood to be high on Mikel Arteta’s list of targets ahead of his first full season as Arsenal manager.
Thomas Partey, 26, remarkably holds a release clause in his current contract of around £45million and it is believed that Atletico Madrid are braced for a number of approaches this summer for the midfielder, and they are willing to let him go provided the full length of the clause is met.
The midfielder has established himself as one of the most dominant defensive-minded players in Europe, becoming the bedrock of Simeone’s team ever since he made the step up to the first team in 2015. According to reports, Arteta has been mightily impressed by Thomas Partey, who has gone on to record 150 appearances for the Spanish club since his breakthrough year.
This is a player Arsenal are in desperate need of, hence their reported interest. It’s been over a decade since Arsenal held a truly influential defensive midfielder, probably since Patrick Vieira. One who is heavily efficient in breaking up play, halting counter-attacks, a dominating presence in front of the defence and someone who can keep things ticking over in possession.
Thomas Partey ticks all of the above characteristics. The Ghanaian international’s performance in the Champions League against Liverpool at Anfield last week was simply stunning, performing his usual role, shielding the Atletico back-line. The midfielder was an ever-present component.
Certainly, Liverpool conjured up a huge volume of opportunities to win the Champions League tie but Atletico’s resilience, energy, and determination to survive the Anfield onslaught and stay in the game beyond 90 minutes is a testament to their never-say-die attitude.
Thomas Partey played a hugely significant role in that tie. He completed four tackles, four interceptions, four clearances, successfully blocked two shots, and completed two dribbles – WhoScored. He also averaged a passing accuracy of 68% but Simeone’s side aren’t known for the possession stats, it’s their efficiency in both defence and attack that defines the whole team and Thomas Partey performed admirably as he usually does.
He’s arguably been Atletico Madrid’s most consistent performer this season despite their relatively below-par season by their high standards, averaging 2.5 tackles in all competitions this season, 1.4 interceptions and a passing average of just under 85%.
In comparison, Granit Xhaka – a regular in Mikel Arteta’s midfield – doesn’t even come close to recording those defensive stats. The Switzerland international averages just 1.8 tackles, and 0.8 interceptions. He does hold a better passing average but that’s solely down to Arsenal’s keep-ball philosophy.
It’s clear that Arsenal lacks the necessary quality in defensive midfield. Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, and Matteo Guendouzi are decent options, yet neither of them has assured Arteta that they are equipped to lead from the back as of late.
For too long, Arsenal have lacked a dominating character in the middle, one who doesn’t mind getting stuck in or grabbing the responsibility of becoming a leader in the position. Thomas Partey is a player tailor-made for the rigours of the Premier League. The Ghanaian would make an instant impact in the middle, remarkably improving Arsenal’s defensive efficiency and prowess.
Partey can fulfill a number of positions in different setups. As a double-pivot midfielder in a 4-2-3-1, at the base of a midfield diamond or as a no.6 behind two free-roaming no.8s. His positional understanding, awareness of danger and speed to cover a fair amount of ground in front of the back-line is simply a rare trait.
Arsenal lack that presence in and around that area of the pitch and the potential signing of Thomas Partey would go a long way in solving that deficiency. In fact, £45million in the current market is shrewd business especially for a player of Partey’s qualities. Mikel Arteta can’t ill-afford to ponder on such an acquisition. Get him in.