That Arsenal’s midfield needs an injection of something new has been apparent for some time. The only question has been how to fix it and who should be the man to do that.
For some it is dynamism, ball-carrying and tackling that is required in the Arsenal engine room. They look back fondly on the days of success this club once enjoyed and note the absence of a Patrick Vieira, a box-to-box midfielder and a leader, a man who could drive his team up the pitch through pure force of will.
Finding the next Vieira has been a project defined by its numerous false dawns, from the injury-prone Abou Diaby to the undersized Lucas Torreira, but ought to be seen as an impossible task. Arsenal have not found a true successor to the Invincible captain because few if any have existed since.
Thomas Partey may have many of the traits Arsenal need now and for some he is the answer, albeit an expensive one. Atletico Madrid’s message throughout the window has been pay his £45million release clause in full and he’s yours.
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Would Partey improve Arsenal? Indisputably. Yet what was abudantly clear in the dog days of the elongated 2019/20 season was that there was a certain class of opponents – the ones Arsenal should be beating more often than they did – against whom the answer was not greater verticality.
When teams as varied as Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur sat in a low block and challenged Arsenal to break them down the Gunners had no idea what to do. Winning positions were frittered away with Arteta’s players incapable of crafting their way around resilient defences.
Arsenal needed an eye for something else.
Houssem Aouar might just be the man to bring them that.
The Gunners saw a £32million bid for Aouar rejected last week but that will not deter them. As football.london revealed on…