According to Goal, Arsenal could face a massive blow in their pursuit of Thomas Partey. Atletico Madrid are apparently looking to increase his current release clause of €50 million to €100 million in an attempt to fend off interest from the Gunners, as well as Manchester United.
Arsenal’s CDM crisis
Over the past five years or so, Arsenal have been one of the few top clubs across Europe, who have failed to find a reliable holding midfielder for their ranks. Granit Xhaka was brought in from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016, but he has had a bumpy career at the Emirates so far.
The Swiss international has improved a lot under Mikel Arteta. But, the Gunners have still lacked the presence of a midfield enforcer who can add more solidity in the second line of press and ultimately provide better protection for the somewhat vulnerable defensive line.
In the current setup, only David Luiz can operate as a holding midfielder. However, the Brazilian has performed poorly since joining from Chelsea in the summer, and he simply cannot be considered as a viable option, leaving Arteta with only Xhaka at his disposal.
Why Partey could have been an ideal choice
What makes Partey such an appealing target for Arsenal is his unrivalled aggression and physicality. The Ghanaian international boasts a strong physique and standing at 1.85m; he is often an intimidating figure in the middle of the park. He has notably attempted a whopping three tackles per game this season with a success rate of 70% – making him one of the best tacklers in Spain.
Another key feature of Partey’s game is his aerial prowess. The 26-year-old has won 1.8 headed duels per game with a success rate of 69%. He is also quite good at reading the game, making 1.4 interceptions per match so far this season.
And despite his defensive astuteness, Partey is an excellent ball distributor. The midfielder has maintained a pass completion rate of 83%, which is quite impressive given Atletico Madrid’s style of play.
Therefore, Partey, using his physical attributes, coupled with his work-rate, could add a new defensive element to Arsenal’s game – making him an ideal target for Arteta.
Can Partey and Xhaka co-exist in midfield?
As mentioned earlier, Xhaka has improved a lot under Arteta. But, one could argue that the potential arrival of Partey could reduce his importance in the first-team. In reality, however, these two can form an excellent midfield partnership in the double-pivot of Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1. Xhaka, despite all his aggression, loves to pass the ball around while Partey can operate in a deeper role, protecting the backline and clearing the loose balls.
Hence, both these midfielders can definitely co-exist in the middle of the park for Arsenal. But, with Atletico keen on doubling the player’s release clause, the Gunners must make a move as soon as possible if they are to get their hands on Partey next season.
Stat courtesy: Whoscored