Thomas Partey has joined Arsenal on a long-term deal from Atletico Madrid.
After the crushing disappointment – which there there is no point hiding from – of the Houssem Aouar deal falling through, it really did all rest on this transfer coming to fruition for Arsenal.
We’ll address whatever qualms there are to be had on what is missing another time, and instead herald someone the club have been after for two years: Thomas Partey.
As confirmed by the club late on deadline day (it wasn’t going to be any other way, was it?) the 27-year-old Ghanaian has moved to north London after the Gunners exercised his £45.4m release clause.
Having been meticulously tracked for what feels like an eternity, central midfield has finally received a considerable boost with the addition of a genuinely top-drawer operator. A combative, industrious and fearsome presence to provide the club, squad and fans with actual structure in the heart of the pitch.
Borrowing traits from all the players in his position currently under Mikel Arteta, but improving upon them and adding his own unique skillset to the table, this is an addition to look forward to.
Stood up against last season’s squad, Partey ranked highest for tackles and interceptions, successful pressures, progressive passes….. the list goes on. But while stats can be misleading, especially when they’re being compared across borders, his outings in the Champions League for Atletico provide all the evidence of his quality one could possibly desire.
We’ve yearned, begged for someone to add a backbone to our side. 15 years on from Patrick Vieira’s departure and we’re still yet to replace our former captain. Yet while Vieira and Partey differ in style, the both exude an imposition in midfield that has abandoned the Emirates since its inception.
His list of attributes goes on.
It doesn’t get mentioned all too often in player profiles, but his tackling ability from a standing position is hugely underrated. Granit Xhaka has made a habit of being unable to assume possession from an opponent stood up without conceding a foul. Partey’s frame may suggest likewise, but his surprising agility works well in both defensive and attacking phases.
Any manner of ball recovery he excels in, while out of possession he’s been strenuously drilled into the Diego Simeone mantra of absolute tactical discipline.
Above all, though, is that he wanted to come to Arsenal. Showcasing a professionalism that meant he never stropped with Los Rojiblancos and went about his business undeterred of the transfer talk, it was only until the release clause was met when he would ever depart.
Partey trained and played as normal, but was always intent on moving to the Premier League to work under Arteta as soon as clause was activated. Tracking a player for what he can offer on the pitch is crucial, but this mentality and behaviour fits precisely into the mould of footballer Arteta desires at Arsenal.
Seeing how he is used for the coming season massively exciting. I shan’t paraphrase Josh Kroenke, but it’s difficult to look at this any other way than with enthusiasm.
Yes, we still lack creative flair, but in Arteta we have the best we could hope for to steer this club and group of players back into the Champions League.
Adding Partey to our ranks is the helping hand he’s not only craved, but thoroughly deserved.