Can Arsenal sign Atlético Madrid’s £43.5m man?

With the Premier League wrapped up and Arsenal having missed out on Champions League qualification, some are expecting a fairly active summer for the Gunners.

It wasn’t an out-and-out poor season given that it was Arsenal’s first under a new manager in decades, but improvement is needed if the club is to get back among the EPL giants.

Expectations of a busy summer were bolstered by Arsenal’s early pursuit of Thorgan Hazard. Though as was noted here previously this pursuit came up short, with the Belgian striker picking Borussia Dortmund over Arsenal and, reportedly, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Now, though, we’re starting to see some buzz about an even more expensive acquisition who could be on the Gunners’ radar: Atlético Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey.

The Rumor

This rumor has been pieced together somewhat, but Metro UK recently reported that Partey can leave Atlético Madrid this summer if his £43.5 million release clause is met. This information comes via Partey’s agent, Daniel Jimenez, though Jimenez seemed to talk down the idea.

Partey had indicated that he’s satisfied in Madrid, and says the only thing that would bother him is not playing in general. However, while he does appear perfectly satisfied with his current situation, it wasn’t the most adamant of denials.

Meanwhile, other reports have indicated that Partey’s camp has been in contact with English clubs about a Premier League move – with Manchester United and Arsenal mentioned as teams targeting the talented midfielder’s services.

So, at this point it’s not quite a concrete Partey-to-Arsenal rumor – but it’s easy to see it heading in that direction as the summer trade winds pick up.

Why Midfield?

As to why Partey makes sense, the answer is simple: Arsenal’s long-standing need at defensive midfield remains an issue. It’s easy to forget about the specifics of a season as soon as it ends, but if you look back at the most recent scores for Arsenal you see a spattering of fairly disastrous defensive efforts that closed out the season: three goals allowed in successive matches against Crystal Palace, Wolves, and Leicester City; three goals in aggregate let up against an inferior Valencia squad. The Gunners were simply too easy to score on late in the season.

This comes down to defense and goalkeeping too, of course, but watching the matches it’s apparent that last year’s acquisition of Lucas Torreira did not solve Arsenal’s problems in the heart of the field.

The idea with Partey is undoubtedly that he could be an instant stabilizer, every bit as capable as Torreira of getting to balls and more adept at keeping them forward.

What Are Arsenal’s Chances?

This is the most difficult question to answer because this rumor seems to be in its infancy. This time of year it’s easy for a stray comment from an agent to get blown up when there isn’t actually much substance behind it.

This appears to be a little bit more than that, particularly given that a few EPL clubs (and possible Inter) are at least somewhat likely to pay the release clause. But we should still take it as a light rumor for now.

If Partey does move though, Arsenal seems as likely as anyone to sign him. The need is clear, the club has a great deal of incentive to make a splash, and the fit is right.

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