Thomas Partey: Midfield Tank Engine


Has Trust Issues With Processes
@Furious is correct. It wasn’t a case of wanting Auoar more, it was just an uncharacteristically methodical approach that Edu and Arteta took.

They knew Partey’s release clause so basically put it to one side and saw if it was possible to get Aouar on a structured deal ala Pepe. The idea was always to get both but Aulus basically laughed off Edu and Juninho’s initial talks as amateur. When it fell apart, they stuck to the plan and activated Partey’s clause.

You guys can read more about the Partey transfer and our summer in general here. Excellent read.

How Arsenal ‘went big’ to sign Partey in a deal two years in the making


Well-Known Member


Anti Antique Abuse
Disgusting behaviour from Arsenal. To have the temerity to do exactly what Atletico spent months telling us to do. I can't believe we didn't inform them and give them time to try and change his mind or make things more difficult for us. Feel really bad for them, must have come as such a shock to lose a player Arsenal have spent months trying to negotiate for.


Only Came To See Granit Xhaka
Must be tough for you, trying desperately to join in with English football.

says the priest at the temple of apollo.

Thank the earth and the skies that xhaka finally has someone at his level to play with. Nice


Has Trust Issues With Processes
You guys can read more about the Partey transfer and our summer in general here. Excellent read.

How Arsenal ‘went big’ to sign Partey in a deal two years in the making

By James McNicholas and David Ornstein 1h ago
Since Arsenal’s interest in Thomas Partey first intensified in 2018, the Ghanaian midfielder has made a habit of regularly tuning into their games from his home in Madrid. He has watched the undulations of the last two years with interest, always hoping the club he was intent on joining would one day come back for him.

On transfer deadline day, Arsenal finally made good on their promise. A message to the Partey camp on Monday morning indicated the club were willing to meet his €50 million release clause. Atletico Madrid, unwilling to let Partey go, have sought to increase the value of the clause several times over the past few seasons. By the time they were aware of Arsenal’s deadline-day operation, the player had been all but snatched away, the whole deal done in Spain. It was La Liga who informed Atletico Partey’s clause had been triggered, rather than Arsenal themselves. Atletico were left furious at the lack of notice, with one senior source describing Arsenal’s approach as “incredible” and feel the relationship between the two clubs is irreparable.

The discourteous approach is reminiscent of when Arsenal approached Mikel Arteta without first contacting Manchester City. Arsenal will plead that deadline day, with the clock ticking down, is no time for courtesy — it is a time to be bold, and this signing is certainly a bold move.

Arsenal’s interest in Partey stems back to 2014, when he was stationed on loan with Almeria. At that time he played as a more adventurous midfielder, rather than as a holding player. It was former Arsenal scout Francis Cagigao who first identified him as a good fit for Arsène Wenger’s team, before later proposing his signing to Sven Mislintat and Unai Emery.

Emery, who knew the player well from his time in La Liga, was already an admirer of Partey’s combination of power, technique and intelligence. When Arsenal hosted Napoli in April 2019, Partey’s representatives were present at the Emirates Stadium. Talks with high-level officials were held at the club’s Highbury House and Partey’s demands were made plain: a salary in excess of €250,000 per week with a signing-on fee of €2.5 million, plus the associated agents commission.

Along with the €50 million buyout clause, which had to be deposited in a single installment, it made for an expensive deal. Despite Emery’s admiration for the player, he made clear to the club’s executive committee that his priority was the addition of a winger. That led to Arsenal focusing on the expensive pursuit of Wilfried Zaha and ultimately Nicolas Pepe, rendering Partey unaffordable. Instead, Raul Sanllehi thrashed out a deal to sign Dani Ceballos on loan.

Arsenal’s interest, however, did not end there. Over the course of the following season, Arsenal officials continued to watch Partey and maintain contact with the player’s representatives. It is a tight camp: although he remains close to his own family, Ghanaian-born Partey left his home in Odumase Krobo at just 10 years old in order to pursue a professional career. After playing with a second-division youth team in Ghana, he eventually travelled to Madrid as an 18-year-old trialist. It was there that agent Jose Jimenez of JJ Sports took him under his wing, with sources subsequently describing Jimenez and his son as Partey’s “second family”.

Over the last two years, Arsenal scouts had watched Partey on more than 20 separate occasions. When Cagigao presented the dossier of recommendations for the summer 2020 transfer window, Partey was at the very top of their list. It’s notable that in the very summer Arsenal chose to dispense with the vast majority of their network of scouts, their two biggest signings — Partey and centre-half Gabriel — both arrived after recommendations from that department.

Arsenal entered the window knowing their midfield would require significant strengthening. Initially, they set out to acquire players who would provide options at “No 10, No 8 and No 6”. The signing of Willian and a second loan spell for Ceballos went some way towards meeting that goal, but Arsenal continued to consider moves for Partey and Lyon playmaker Houssem Aouar.

When Atletico made it clear they would only contemplate allowing Partey to leave if the release clause was triggered, Arsenal set that deal to one side. They began to explore the potential transfer of Aouar — a player admired by Arteta since his time working alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. As recently as last week, Arsenal were confident they were capable of securing the deal. Technical director Edu instigated talks with compatriot and Lyon sporting director Juninho Pernambucano.

That may in part have been Arsenal’s undoing. It is president Jean-Michel Aulas who is the key decision-maker at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais. One source privy to Lyon’s internal politics characterised Edu and Juninho’s conversations as “like two kids trying to learn to ride a tricycle” — to do a deal with Lyon, you must get in front of Aulas. Arsenal’s subsequent offers fell considerably short of Lyon’s demand for more than €50 million. Aulas set clear deadlines for the negotiations, but an agreement was not forthcoming. With the player also having second thoughts after overtures from Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid about a potential transfer in 2021, the prospect of any deal collapsed.

As the transfer window entered its final weekend, Edu and Arteta’s focus shifted back to acquiring someone capable of operating at the base of midfield — the elusive No 6. With Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira both headed for the exit, Arsenal were in danger of leaving themselves with just Granit Xhaka, Ceballos and Mohamed Elneny as senior options in that area.

Edu and Arteta landed on Chelsea’s Jorginho as a suitable target — another player prized by Arteta during his time at the Etihad. The hope was that if Chelsea’s long-standing interest in Declan Rice solidified, the Brazilian might be deemed surplus to requirements. Chelsea, however, did not aggressively pursue Rice, and consequently informed Arsenal that Jorginho was not for sale.

And so back to Partey. Arsenal sources indicate it was not a case of Partey over Aouar — it was a case of what remained possible in this window. Although deadline day deals are often associated with panic, Arsenal have sought to bring a calm, methodical approach to the market. Those familiar with Arsenal’s transfer strategy have expressed surprise that the club have ultimately opted to proceed with the most expensive deal on their potential list. It is understood that, once salary is accounted for, the total deal for Partey could cost in the region of €100 million.

Having already acquired Gabriel and Willian, staff had been operating under the impression the club needed to sell a number of players to fund further spending. For Arsenal, this window was always intended to be as much about selling as buying.

That side of things has proved more difficult. In a depressed market, Arsenal have struggled to find takers for the likes of Sokratis, Sead Kolasinac, Shkodran Mustafi and Guendouzi, although the latter eventually joined Hertha Berlin on loan. Wolves were interested in purchasing Ainsley Maitland-Niles, though not at a price Arsenal deemed acceptable. Although there were multiple suitors for Torreira, the player’s determination to join Atletico Madrid meant Arsenal eventually agreed to a loan deal. With the midfielder under Arsenal contract until 2023, they hope a positive spell in La Liga could enable them to attract an attractive price next summer.

Arsenal fans will doubtless have cast envious eyes at Liverpool who, in Rhian Brewster, sold a striker without a Premier League appearance to his name for £23.5 million. Brewster’s nationality and the champions’ celebrated status almost certainly contribute to that hefty price tag, but nevertheless Liverpool are a club that consistently sell well. As well as obvious instances like Coutinho’s transfer to Barcelona, they also received £15 million for Jordon Ibe, £19 million for Dominic Solanke and £12.5 million for Danny Ward. Earlier this summer, Wolves paid £13.5 million for defender Ki-Jana Hoever. While Arsenal have a tendency to hold on to players for too long, allowing their value to diminish, Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards has a great instinct for when to sell. It can appear ruthless, but the financial benefit is unquestionable.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have struggled to offload their high-earning fringe players — the intransigence of Mesut Özil, insistent he will see out the final year of his contract, is a case in point. Arsenal aren’t alone in this — Chelsea have experienced similar issues when it comes to shifting offcuts. The economic crisis has made extracting fees from European clubs more difficult than ever.

The one squad player Arsenal were able to sell for a respectable fee was substitute goalkeeper Emi Martinez, who joined Aston Villa for a fee in the region of £20 million. After his impressive run in the team during Bernd Leno’s absence, Martinez was determined not to return his role as perennial back-up. Arteta and goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana, however, were united in regarding Leno as the definitive number one.

Arsenal’s intention was to replace Martinez with Brentford’s David Raya but the Championship club were unwilling to sell. That led to Arsenal moving for 25-year-old Iceland international Runar Alex Runarsson, another former Cana protege. Arsenal’s interest in Raya, however, remains: although the Spaniard recently signed a new contract seemingly committing him to Brentford until 2024, sources have told The Athletic that the deal includes a minimum fee release clause that comes into action in the summer of 2021.

Part of Raya’s appeal is that, having come through Blackburn Rovers’ academy, he qualifies as a homegrown player. Following the closure of the domestic transfer window on October 16th, Arsenal will have to register their 25-man squad with the Premier League, in which they are permitted to have no more than 17 non-homegrown players. With the closure of the European window, Arsenal currently have 19 senior professionals in that bracket. It seems Arteta will soon face a formal decision on who to exclude.

The struggle to move players on means there remains a slightly flabby, imbalanced look to sections of the Arsenal squad. There’s a surfeit of central defenders and arguably still space for another creative midfielder. The overhaul is as yet unfinished.

Perhaps that should come as no great surprise, given the scale of the job at hand. Arsenal also lost head of football and chief negotiator Sanllehi just weeks into the window, placing an enormous and unexpected burden on Edu and contract specialist Huss Fahmy. As one Arsenal staff member at Arsenal put it in the midst of the transfer madness: “Edu’s head is on fire from all the negotiations”. Arsenal’s leadership team of Edu, Arteta and new chief executive Vinai Venkatesham have endured a period of significant instability and still managed to execute something like the plan.

Arsenal, like all Premier League clubs, have also been contending with the economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic. The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust estimate that COVID-19 is likely to take Arsenal from a situation where they would have reported a small profit of £4 million for this current season to one of recording a financial loss of over £40 million for 2019-20. If stadiums are empty for the remainder of 2020-21, the AST believe Arsenal could record a loss of a further £80 million — without accounting for that investment in Partey.

Set against that backdrop, the work Arsenal have done this summer is impressive. In Gabriel, they have signed a coveted centre-half who is already adapting well to English football. Willian has brought experience and versatility. Bringing Ceballos back on loan from Madrid was no certainty, but Arsenal beat Real Betis to the punch. The merit of converting loan deals for Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares into permanent signings will be debated — but until both players have made a greater impression on the Arsenal first-team, it is difficult to assess their true quality.

There will be no arguments, however, about the significance of signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new deal. Arsenal stretched the limits of their creaking wage budget to tie him into a three-year contract, the terms of which mean he has the potential to become the club’s highest earner. On top of that, they tied down the promising duo of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to long-term contracts. That outlay demonstrated backing for Arteta, and an optimism about what the next few seasons could bring.

The same is true for the signing of Partey. At 27, he is significantly older than Arsenal’s other major target, Aouar. However, Arteta has already shown a preference for experience in pivotal positions. In Partey, Arteta believes he is getting a player who is already the finished article. That should enable him to have an instant impact — Fernandinho was already 28 when he arrived at Manchester City, and has proved enormous value. Arsenal want to push on now.

This is not the first time in recent history Arsenal have finished the summer window on a high. The celebrations that greeted transfer deadline day a year ago serve as a cautionary reminder that spending does not guarantee success. However, Arsenal appear to have emerged from adversity with a more complete squad. The club have sensed opportunity — stumbling rivals, a team with newfound momentum, a manager on the rise — and have seized it. Arsenal have gone for it.


Well-Known Member
Got a feeling Torreira will be in for some more tears over there when the fans realize they can direct their salt towards him... I feel for him a bit I wont lie.

But no matter! Welcome Partey! What a statement that is!


Well-Known Member
Arteta, he’s manager now.

Aouar is potentially a great conductor, think those types are hard to find.

I thinks it was not a matter of one over the other. We knew early on after trying for a player plus cash offer , only a release clause activation would work. It needed full payment. So we left it late to sell players and make up that amount. This explains why we haggled with Lyon to get a better deal and arrange a payment structure. After that we could see what we got left and sell a few players to prepare the stage for a final assault on the release clause. It always had to be the last option based on our planning.

We failed woefully with our player sales. Emi was never on the list of outgoings. It just happened as things unfolded. We managed to recoup nothing else from all our listed players. Only loan offers. Not even Douzi and Lucas could fetch us a penny. Whereas both should get us 40-50m easily if not for covid constraints.

Overall it is a very tidy window. We are clearing the deadwood slowly. January will see more out. We are bringing in players to fit a managers philosophy. Gabriel and Partey are top draw players and would form the spine of this team. Arteta said 3 years vision and it is very clear we have started well. Add 3-4 top players to this over the next 3-4 windows and we have a proper squad.

Red London

Anti-Simp Culture
I genuinely think (and I said this even when it looked like we were going to sign Aouar) that second season Saka matches the end product we would get from Aouar in his adaptation season.
To be honest we could find out this season that we dont actually need Aouar. If we play a 433 Saka may make the LCM position his own, and hes just as talented as Aouar anyway.

Maybe next summer we focus on a new striker (if Auba stays LW), making Ceballos permanent, as well as signing a defender.

Red London

Anti-Simp Culture
vs everyone I say.
I'd say that in a tough away game to the top 8 or even home to top teams we should go for a 433:

Bellerin Luiz Gabriel Tierney
Partey Ceballos Xhaka
Willian/Pepe Laca Auba

(or Auba centrally and 2 of Pepe/Willian/Saka as wingers.
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Well-Known Member
I get your point but I think Aouar takes the window to a 10/10 hence my score of 8/10 due to the quality of Partey and also keeping Aubameyang and Saka which people very much overlook.

I think you can look at it differently. Partey isnt a creative signing, but he indirectly will add creativity. One reason is because we can now play 433 and 4231 very comfortably knowing we have Thomas either next to Ceballos or Xhaka which is very exciting. That allows us to then use Saka and Willian in a 4231 for example. Willian looked unlocked centrally against Sheffield utd.

Next summer we lose Ceballos, we lose Özil and more important we lose around £30M a year off the wage bill from 4 players leaving. Expect another big signing in midfield next year.

Also forgetting ESR will be playing games for us which is brilliant

Yeah, I feel that, that's my hope too, better midfielder should allow us to get the ball into the final third more, and allow us to be more creative, especially if it can allow to move Auba centrally. I think, honestly, our best lineup now becomes the 4-3-3/3-4-3 hybird with Saka in this LWB, left attacking centre mid who pops into the channels and 10 spaces often often, Willian-Auba-Pepe in attack and Ceballos-Thomas in midfield. I think it's actually a really clever design Arteta has come up with there to get the best out of our personnel.

That's why I'm not too upset and very glad we made this signing. Still think, though, it's a bit of a miscalculation and we'll see it in some games where we are just sterile to create with Ceballos and Thomas and Saka and/or Willian. It's also asking a lot of a 19 year old and a 33 year old over the course of a long season.

But yeah, still absolutely as enthusiastic as I have been about Arsenal since, like, forever, and hoping perhaps in the winter window we might go in for a creative player and think about moving on some of our players who actually have value. And very pleased that the board is backing Arteta financially. Even if, while I think Arteta absolutely has vision and absolutely gets it and absolutely is a fantastic coach that is only going to get better going forward, I do think we are learning that, much like as a player, his disposition is a bit conservative and risk-adverse when push comes to shove, before real doubt he will take the conservative choice (ie, solidify midfield with ready-made top class player rather than potentiate arguably bigger area of need going forward with young, extremely talented chance creator who needs polishing and has some doubts about his game--how much really can he create? enough to be a principal creator? can he defend at all, enough to be an effective 8? which is where he seems a more natural fit).


A-M's Resident Jobber
Think Dortmund fans were a bit like this when Auba was leaving, they struggle to realize the pull we still have for players...Atletico supporters can do what they want, we are a top football club.

Although Dortmund and Atletico have both been brilliant in the 2010s, better than us even...what we were in the late 90s and early 00s will keep us relevant for a good while...we are a wounded giant, but still a giant.

While those two teams were great, we were legendary at our peak under Arsène, we where the team for that generation...heard rumours of friendlies with the Brazil national team around that time, everyone was watching us really.

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