Arsenal are still buzzing at the arrival of Ghanian midfielder, Thomas Partey. The former Athletico Madrid star was a deadline day acquisition for the Gunners after they triggered his 45m Pounds release clause. Since then, the mood has been electric as Mikel Arteta got his prime summer target.
With his arrival, many have been hurraying, saying Arsenal have finally been able to replaced their former captain, Patrick Viera who left the club for Juventus in 2005 after 9 years of trophy laden service. Since his exit, Arsenal have been accused of being too soft in the middle of the park as efforts to add real steel to the Gunners’ midfield have yielded little or no results.
Former manager, Arsene Wenger tried to bring in a Viera clone in French starlet, Abou Diaby but his promising start ended abruptly with horrifying tackle from Dan Smith that broke his ankle and turned him into a perpetually crocked player. He never truly fulfilled his potentials. Few times he showed promise but many times, he was recovering from different injuries.
Granit Xhaka was another midfield power house that Wenger brought in to add the much needed steel to Arsenal’s center but he has not really lived up to that billing. The Swiss is a good passer but poor at tackles and his slow recovery rate meant he could not act as a dependable shield for the defence when breaking up play.
Now that Arsenal have turned to Thomas Partey, what should be expected of the Ghanaian? In terms of height, he is definitely not as tall as the Frenchman but he is equally robust in tackles, strong, mobile and would the much needed steel to Arsenal’s brittle middle. It can be said that after so many years without one, Arsenal can now say they have a midfield enforcer. It should be said that all action playing style could be similar but positions could be different.
Viera in his time at Arsenal was a box to box midfielder, the fifth man behind the Arsenal quartet when swarming forward. His energy and leggy frame meant he could cover both ends of the pitch in full throttle when the team was transiting from defence to attack and vice versa.
In this light, one could argue that former Gunner now an Old Lady, Aaron Ramsey was a box to box midfielder with better output. He definitely contributed more goals and assists to Arsenal from the midfield but under him, Arsenal lacked the same energy and steel they enjoyed with Viera.
No one can categorically say how Mikel Arteta is going to deploy Partey but one thing is assured, he is going to add a new dimension to the Arsenal midfield. His versatility and all action style of play means he could be deployed as a box to box midfielder, the Viera style while his discipline and adept use of space mean he could be deployed as a defensive midfielder breaking up play and initiating attacks from deep.
Partey as a midfielder would allow the likes of Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka in more advanced roles, bringing out their creativity and helping out in attack. Arsenal are currently without a natural creative midfielder after failing in a bid to sign Lyon’s French star, Houssem Aouar and after freezing Mesut Ozil out of the team, Arteta would have to make do with a makeshift creative midfielder to address the concerns of creativity in the team. With Partey in the team, it is less of defensive worries and more of offensive ones.
Thomas Partey ticks multiple boxes and depending on which box he is asked to fill, he could be Arsenal’s new Viera or their Ray Parlour, Gilberto Silva and Emmanuel Petit all rolled into one.