The likelihood of Thomas Partey signing for Arsenal is increasing, and no one serves to benefit from this more than Granit Xhaka.
Thoams Partey is looking more and more like a Gunner with each passing day. After his father came out and spoke about the likelihood of a move abroad, “to bigger things,” Arsenal fans have been counting the deal as done. Which is a dangerous principle, to be sure, but it’s never too early to start planning.
But forget about the fans for now. Forget about Mikel Arteta. No one is going to benefit from Thomas Partey arriving quite like Granit Xhaka.
The Swiss midfielder has spent his entire North London career desperate for the right midfield partner. From Lucas Torreira to Matteo Guendouzi to Dani Ceballos, no one has been able to give Xhaka what he needs to be at his best.
This year has been his best year. He’s been a fantastic presence in the left pocket of the midfield, slipping behind Bukayo Saka to let him get forward and defending resolutely.
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But Xhaka can get even better if he’s given the freedom to operate from deep with the confidence of knowing that he isn’t going to be the best shot Arsenal has to stopping a counterattack before it gets to the defense.
Thomas Partey is an all-effort, box-to-box guy. He covers a ton of ground with ruthlessness and determination and Xhaka can rest easy with the Ghanaian next to him. No counter attack is going to be made with Partey trying to stop it. No passing is going to circulate around the Arsenal box with Partey getting in the way.
Xhaka has improved as a defender, but too often he is left stranded. Ceballos wants to get forward. Guendouzi does not have much positional awareness and Lucas Torreira, while doggish in his efforts, gets caught lunging far too many times.
Partey is the guy that Xhaka needs to complete this midfield at long last. With these two at the base, Arteta can confidently employ a No. 10 if he so desires, or he may find it more useful to build an even stronger midfield base and make if a three across. After all, Xhaka masters that left-hand side and Partey can play centrally. Add someone on the right and watch the team build off that firm foundation.
To overuse and already overused saying, it’ll be like a new transfer in itself, getting the best out of Xhaka.