Arsenal have been wanting a midfield general for some time. They had brought in players like Xhaka and Torriera, but none of them were able to perform consistently enough to satisfy manager Mikel Arteta. And whenever Thomas Partey put in a performance for Atlético Madrid, heads at Arsenal always turned to look across the pond in admiration.
Arsenal finally got their man by paying his £45 million release clause on deadline day. Will Thomas Partey ring in a midfield revolution at Arsenal?
Thomas Partey: Arsenal's wanted man
The Gunners made no secret that they wanted the Ghanaian. When the transfer window came along, Arteta wanted Partey at the Emirates Stadium. But the Covid-19 pandemic had caused a lot of financial loss for the club, which was already struggling with high player and staff wages.
The asking price was £45 million, which considering today's bloated market was a steal. But Arsenal refused, trying to negotiate a lower fee. As the negotiations dragged on, it became increasingly clear that Atlético will not part with Partey unless Arsenal pay his release clause.
Can Partey be the new Vieira?
Now that Arsenal have their man, will he be the catalyst to propel the gunners to a top 4 position?
In attack, Arsenal have got their team sorted out. Aubameyang and Lacazette are supported by last season's record arrival Pepe, and this season's free transfer Willian. At the back, the Gunners have reinforced with Pablo Mari and Cédric Soares. The midfield was the only region that looked a bit weak.
Concerns about Partey's ability to compete in the Premier League should be minimal. The Premier League can be tough for less physical players, but Thomas Partey is strong and agile. He honed his skills under Diego Simone, who is notorious for pushing his team to the limit.
Partey has played in a team that has is more focused on a defensive approach than attacking. Arsenal are a team that play attacking football, but that has led to the opposition finding gaps to exploit. Partey can bring more discipline into the midfield and is very good at reading the game, and can cut off an attack by intercepting a through ball before it happens.
Partey has also shown that he can get out of sticky situations with his ball control and presence of mind. The Premier League is fast-paced, and Arsenal are masters of passing in tight spaces. Partey's awareness of his opponent can open up the opposition's midfield, and create a chance for his attacking team-mates.
The Ghanaian has also not shied away from receiving the ball during his time at Atlético, always wanting to influence the game. He may need some time to adjust to the pace in England, but with right guidance he can get to grips with the style of play quickly. Partey has a manager who himself was a midfielder, and Arteta himself spent two years under another midfield great - Pep Guardiola.
Arsenal have been looking for a new Patrick Vieira for some time. The Frenchman was the engine of the all-conquering Gunners, but his leadership was the most important characteristic. Partey is the current vice-captain in his national side, and can turn into a strong leader that Arsenal want in the middle of the park.
While Arsenal have been criticised for their transfer dealings, they finally got the man they have been trying woo since 2018. Only time will tell if the £45 million they paid will break hearts, or bring back the glory days.Published 09 Oct 2020, 15:03 IST