Thomas Partey is keen on a move to Arsenal but the Gunners' hopes of landing the midfielder this window will rest on the club’s ability to move players on over the coming weeks.
Madrid do not want to lose Partey and still hope to convince him to sign a new contract. His current deal runs until 2023 and there had been talks over extending his stay.
The financial implications brought on by the coronavirus pandemic have meant, however, that Atletico have not been able to offer him the size of deal they had initially planned. They have instead given the player assurances that he will be given a substantial increase once the club is on a more secure financial footing in a year’s time.
Arsenal remain extremely interested in Partey, however, and sources have confirmed to Goal that the player is keen on a move to north London, providing a deal can be agreed between the two clubs.
The Gunners have been trying to tempt Atletico into a swap deal involving cash and Matteo Guendouzi, but the Liga outfit are adamant that the only way Partey will be leaving this summer is if Arsenal trigger his £44.5 million ($60m) release clause.
As it stands, Arsenal have made it clear they are not in a position to do that, with the club having been focusing their attentions on completing the signing of centre-back Gabriel from Lille, who will be joining in a £25m ($33m) deal.
Partey, meanwhile, is happy to wait to see how things progress over the coming weeks. Although he is keen on a switch to the Premier League and is likely to move to Arsenal if a deal can be agreed between the two clubs, he will not look to force his way out of Atletico.
Arteta is well aware of the need to improve his options in midfield and will soon be boosted by the return of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid, who is close to joining on loan for a second successive season.
But Partey is a player who has long been identified as someone who could come in and give Arsenal the type of quality and aggression they have been missing in the middle of the park.
Former head of international recruitment Francis Cagigao and his scouting network have watched the player closely over the past 18 months and, prior to their shock departure last month, had advised the north London club to pursue a move.
There were initial discussions over a move for Partey last summer while Unai Emery was still in charge, but they never materialised into a firm offer. Arsenal have maintained their interest, however, and still hope to get a deal done before the transfer window closes on October 6.
Those hopes will be boosted significantly if they can move players on over the next few weeks to raise some extra funds and free up space on the wage bill. Henrikh Mkhitaryan left for Roma on Monday, with the Armenia international having his contract terminated a year early.
Although that meant Arsenal did not receive a fee for the 31-year-old, it got him off the wage bill - saving the Gunners around £9m ($12m) over the course of the coming season.
Arsenal now hope to find a buyer for Guendouzi, who has been linked with Valencia in recent days, while Lucas Torreira could soon return to Italy - with several Serie A sides interested in the Uruguay international.
Mohamed Elneny is another player who would be allowed to leave, along with Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers and Mesut Ozil.
Talks over the future of Alexandre Lacazette, who returned to London Colney on Monday, are also expected to take place over the next fortnight, with Atletico Madrid keen on the French striker, who now has less than two years left on his current contract.
Meanwhile, there is significant interest in Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Emiliano Martinez, who both starred in Saturday’s Community Shield victory against Liverpool, but Arsenal are reluctant to lose either player and would much prefer to try and move other members of the squad on first.
There is an acceptance, however, that funds must be raised to add further additions to the captures of William and Gabriel and the imminent arrival of Ceballos on loan.
Signing Partey remains a priority. What happens in terms of outgoings over the next few weeks will be key to determining whether that interest can be followed up by the north London club.