It is hard to see quite what it was about Arsenal’s last minute swoop for Thomas Partey that so took Atletico Madrid by surprise.
Arsenal had been pursuing the Ghanaian all summer, desperate to work with Atletico in a deal earlier in the window and making several intimations over the players and cash they were willing to offer in exchange for Partey’s signature.
Matteo Guendouzi, Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torreira were all available alongside cash if Los Rojiblancos were prepared to negotiate. They were not, as was their right.
Pay his release clause or he’s going nowhere was Atletico’s message throughout the transfer window. It is curious then that Arsenal doing exactly what was asked of them is said to have prompted such fury at the Wanda Metropolitana.
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Manager Diego Simeone was said to be furious that his plans of pairing Partey with Arsenal loanee Torreira had been ripped to pieces in the last hours of the window. Atletico Madrid were no less disappointed, releasing a brusque statement announcing La Liga’s confirmation that the release clause had been paid.
Atletico said they were told at 11:28pm local time, just half an hour before the transfer window closed, that the £45million fee had been deposited with reports in Spain suggesting they were unhappy not to have been told beforehand by Arsenal. Invariably those clubs who see their best players prized away by this quirk of Spanish employment law feel aggrieved, as Simeone’s side did a year ago when Antoine Griezmann was whisked away by Barcelona.
Equally they could reflect on those times when they were the beneficiary of undervalued release clauses, notably securing the services of winger Vitolo for around £30million.
Meanwhile their disappointment at the late nature of the Gunners’ move would appear to suggest…