Arsenal finally completed the signing of Thomas Partey on transfer deadline day – and his arrival has been long-awaited in the Gunners midfield. After months of speculation, Arsenal eventually pulled the trigger on Partey’s £45million release clause to leave Atletico Madrid fuming. And Mikel Arteta’s side are set to reap huge benefits from his arrival.
Partey is likely to play a key role in Arteta’s starting XI almost immediately.
His ability to win the ball back will allow the Spanish manager to switch to a 4-3-3 formation on a more regular basis.
Arsenal have been without a ball-winning midfielder for far too long but have finally found the player to fill that void.
Supporters thought Lucas Torreira could be the answer following his promising start to life at the Emirates.
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But the Uruguay international has now headed in the opposite direction to Partey on a season-long loan.
For Atletico last season Partey won 58.5 per cent of his duels, compared to 49.3 per cent for Torreira, according to Wyscout.
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However, it’s not just Torreira who Partey is an upgrade on, but also the rest of the midfielders at Arteta’s disposal.
Granit Xhaka won 50.5 per cent of his duels, Dani Ceballos 48.6 per cent and Mohamed Elneny 50.7 per cent during his loan at Turkish side Besiktas.
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Partey’s ability in the air is also something that puts him ahead of his new team-mates.
The Ghana international won 66.4 per cent of his aerial duels last term, compared to Xhaka’s 46 per cent, Ceballos’ 29.7 per cent and Elneny’s 45.8 per cent.
The diminutive Torreira unsurprisingly only won 37.3 per cent of his duels in the air.
However, it is not just how often Partey wins his duels, but also where he wins them on the pitch.
Arsenal need to win back the ball further up the pitch to provide the likes of Willian, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with service.
And that is something Partey can offer his new side as well.
The 27-year-old averaged 10.87 recoveries in the opponent’s half per 90 minutes for Atletico last season – again ahead of all his new team-mates.
Xhaka averaged 8.67 per game, Ceballos 7.02, and Torreira and Elneny both 8.35.
A lack of creativity from midfield means that winning the ball high up the pitch is vital.
Partey provides Arsenal with ball-winning skills that they have not had for several years and can provide a different dimension to Arteta’s side.
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