Arsenal have been linked with a move for Atletico Madrid midfield Thomas Partey this summer.
The Ghanaian international has established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in European football, and Gunners fans are hoping to see him at the Emirates next season.
Mikel Arteta’s interest in the midfielder is reportedly an “open secret”, and a lack of Champions League football is not expected to affect the deal should the Gunners fail to qualify.
And despite an encouraging run of form after some early struggles since the Premier League restart, the need for a player like Partey in the Arsenal lineup has never been more necessary.
Matteo Guendouzi’s future appears uncertain after being exiled in recent weeks and it appears as if Arteta is intent on finding a partner for the rejuvenated Granit Xhaka.
Xhaka has emerged as one of Arteta’s most important players this season, given they are unbeaten in nine games under the Spaniard when he played the full 90 minutes. But with the Swiss international injured and his deputies failing to fill his boots, a player like Partey, who can sit alongside Xhaka and sweep up in front of an erratic defence, is needed more than ever.
And Partey is among the best in the business at what he does. When a manager like Diego Simeone drafts you into his famous defensive unit, you know you’re onto something good.
But defensive prowess may not be the only reason Arsenal are interested in the 27-year-old powerhouse.
According to the website Squawka, 274 players have attempted 50 plus take-ons in Europe’s top five leagues this season, and just three of them have a success rate of more than 85%. Partey is the best among them, with a success rate of 87.5%.
Liverpool target Thiago Alcantara also features in the list of three players with above 85%, alongside Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic.
He has attempted 56 take-ons this season and completed 49, so he is not just your regular defensive midfielder. He has far more to his game than just that.
In fact, Partey could offer Arsenal that vital link between defence and attack, a driving force on the counter-attack when transitioning from back to front, a brilliant carrier of the ball when navigating through tough defences.
Defensive midfielders are usually known for passing sideways and playing safe, but not Partey. He is not afraid to take on midfielders and defenders while in possession, and he’s really good at it.
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