I’ve seen a lot of guessing going on about the kind of player Partey is and as the rumours continue to strengthen I thought it’d be decent to actually give a quick run down of his profile. As a Simeone fanboy, I’ve been watching Atletico for a while and have a fairly good grasp on the type of player Partey is. This will NOT be a lazy run down of his stats and half assed interpretations in a weak attempt for upvotes, this will be an analysis on the style of player Partey is. Of course, this is just my opinion so take with a pinch of salt, as I’m not a scout. Also I apologise for the quality of pictures, I did my best.
Firstly, he is a DM, holding midfielders come in many styles, from Fabinho to Makelele to Busquets. Just because Partey can run with the ball doesn’t make him a box to box midfielder. I’ve seen a few comparisons to Ndombele and even pogba, which is just plain wrong, he has very few of their offensive capabilities and is far superior to them defensively. Partey is the embodiment of Simeone’s mantra “Hard work, passion and humility”.
Partey’s role is usually determined by the type of opposition Atletico are facing. Against better opponents, he is the furthest midfielder back, providing cover for overlapping fullbacks as well cutting off passing lanes to the opposing forwards. See here:
Against weaker teams, he and the other 8 occupy the opposing midfielders, pressuring them far more aggressively in an attempt to make the opponents pass sideways. See here:
Atletico are excellent zonal markers, Partey is often deployed as a aggressive presser when the opponents look to play through the middle, this forces opponents to play wider or go long. He also provides cover when other players pressed the opponent. See how party drops deep into the half space as his team mate closes down the ball.
Partey’s defensive awareness and game reading is also superb, always looking to stop the through ball and break down attacks as other press the ball carrier. See how he intercepts the ball as Messi is closed down. Although a big reason he is so good at this is because of Atletico’s organised press.
This defensive awareness allows him to switch positions and play either side of the pivot, which allows him to lockdown the more dangerous winger. Another great thing about Partey is how rarely he goes from ground, he always leave tackling as his last resort, looking to always stay upright and break down an attack through slowing opponents down in order for the rest of the defence to catch up. Especially in and around the area.
This defensive monster does have his drawbacks though. He has very little to offer in the offensive phase of the game. A part of this is due to the system he plays but also individually he has areas to improve.
Unlike the elite DMs, he struggles to create passing lanes. See here, where he occupies a space behind the opponent forcing his CB to go long, instead of offering an option short.
Instead of moving and finding space, he just waits. This is also the case further up the pitch as he doesn’t break the lines off the ball. His priority is to occupy spaces to cover in case of counter attacks.
There are also times he can has lapses in concentration, see here as he marks an already occupied attacker instead of the free Rakitic who is running into the box:
His technique is also not anything special nor is it poor. He possesses a powerful shot but rarely is in position to shoot. Given his position he does make the occasion rash challenge. His passing is solid and while being a DM, he makes a lot of forward passes from deep, however hasn’t shown he can do this further up the pitch in tighter spaces. His first touch is good enough to create space and his strength helps with that too. Again, this is more effective in deeper positions when he’s under less pressure. Higher up the pitch, he does have the ability to ping long balls across the pitch and defence splitting passes, given the time and space. He is extremely right footed and at times take too many touches before releasing the ball. His calmness on the ball even under pressure allows teammates the time to give passing options, almost similar to busquets. His dribbling is good, but mostly one footed, when he is pushed onto his weaker side he can lose the ball. However he has shown great discipline to win back the ball he has lost unlike some arsenal players. He mainly relies on heavy touches and strength to beat players one v one and hence rarely does do that higher up the pitch.
On set plays, he’s the last player back for Atletico to stop potential counter attacks. While Partey is a physical dominant player, he relies on his defensive IQ and positioning rather than looking to bully players off the ball. His mental strength can be summed up in one game, against arsenal when Atletico were a man down, he played RB and covered at CM while Atletico had the ball, very few players have the discipline, positional IQ and fitness to pull this off for almost an entire game.
Partey is a solid defensive player who offers great option in transition but mainly provides defensive stability, cover for more attacking players and ball winning capabilities, both through tackling and interceptions. He’s a good passer from deep but arsenal fans should not expect Pogba level defence splitting passes, nor should they expect the agility of Ndombele on the ball.
Personally I’ve been a fan of his for years and would love to see him in an arsenal shirt. COYG.