The signing of Thomas Partey was a milestone in the recovery of Arsenal.
Or at least it was meant to be.
It should have represented perhaps the biggest missing piece of the puzzle – a complete midfielder, with an onus on ball recovery and turnovers. The player who could convert pressure into an outlet, to set free the team who needed a guarantee behind them that all is well. Without that, the mental handbrake can’t be released.
Partey at Atletico was a beast. Used primarily as a defensive midfielder, the Ghanaian would break attacks as easily as our club break our hearts each week. Partey was a dynamo and when he won the ball – which was more often than not – he would gallop forward, using his physicality to propel his team further up the pitch.
But Partey is much more than a sentry in midfield. For Ghana, he is used much further forward, his eye for a pass and his quick thinking harnessed to create, rather than to destroy. And his record for his country is an impressive one – 15 goals/assists in just 32 games.
It’s clear that Partey is a multi-talented player who can benefit our team in a variety of ways. But his main strength is exactly why we signed him and why he is tailor-made for our team.
And yet – Partey has been close to abysmal since joining.
His recent performance against City aside, Partey has not started his Arsenal career in glowing terms.
Why has a player with strengths such as his, failed to adjust to the rigours of the Premier League?
Or maybe – is it down to the club he left?
It is well known that Diego Simeone’s Atletico side is a watertight ship. No room for stragglers, it is very much a team performance, with every man from 1-11 pulling in the same direction. And Partey excelled in this atmosphere.
So maybe Arteta’s Arsenal are looking to coax a little more out of Partey, other than the one-man war-machine he was for Simeone? Arteta could be looking for a little of the Ghana version of Partey, rather than a terminator in the centre?
The problem is, there are too many questions. We cannot truly know why Partey is struggling to shine in an Arsenal shirt. All we know is that the player we’re watching is not the player we signed.
Even Partey himself admits his performances since leaving Atletico are underwhelming. The midfielder gave himself a 4/10 for his displays so far when speaking to Arsenal.com – and this can be enough to give us some confidence that we will see a vast improvement.
Because when a player is aware of his errors and not hitting the levels he is capable of, it means he will work continuously until he gets back to where he was.
And let us not forget the raft of different injuries Partey has had to deal with, which have disrupted any rhythm he was looking to build from.
Partey will justify his price tag and the reputation that came with him from Spain.
We might just have to show a little patience.
Something us Gooners are famed for lately…