Much of the speculation surrounding Arsenal over the summer concerned Mikel Arteta’s midfield conundrum.
Having strengthened the defence and attack by signing Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian, there was intense pressure from the fan base to bolster his midfield options despite securing Dani Ceballos for a second loan spell from Real Madrid.
For a long time, Houssem Aouar was the name on everyone’s lips. With the young Frenchman seemingly keen to leave Lyon, there had been quiet optimism over Arsenal’s chances of landing him.
In the end, the Gunners failed to reach an agreement with Lyon, prompting a £45million deadline-day move for Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey.
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Of course, Arsenal’s interest in the Ghanaian was hardly a last-minute thing. In fact, the north Londoners had long held an interest in Partey, who was one of the club’s top two midfield targets along with Aouar.
And while some Arsenal fans still feel disappointed about missing out on the Frenchman, there can be no question that Arteta has inherited a mightily impressive proposition in Partey.
After weeks of chasing Aouar, did the Gunners end up with the right midfielder in the end? Let’s take a closer look.
First, it is important to identify what Arsenal’s midfield needed. Having chopped and changed between Ceballos, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka so far this season, Arteta needed a nailed-on starter, someone around whom he could select his midfield.
Ceballos can be creative, Elneny offers steady passing and positional sense and Xhaka is adept as a ball-winner, but there is a strong argument that Partey offers an upgrade in all of the aforementioned departments.
With his imposing 6ft 1in frame, it is no surprise that he is a formidable physical presence in midfield, excelling in both tackles…