Thomas Partey is “the final piece of the jigsaw that makes Arsenal challenge for the title”, says the club’s former scout Francis Cagigao, with the £45 million ($58m) midfielder expected to star in north London.
Mikel Arteta completed his transfer business on the final day of the summer window. The Gunners had been monitoring Partey “for a long time”, with those efforts finally delivering the desired result as the deadline approached.
Arsenal agreed to trigger the release clause in the Ghana international’s contract at Atletico Madrid, allowing him to make his way to Emirates Stadium.
Cagigao believes Partey will deliver an immediate return on the investment made in him, saying it is possible that he could be the man to fire the Gunners back into contention for the Premier League crown.
“He is a player that we pursued for a long time and strongly recommended over the last few years,” a man who left Arsenal in September after 24 years with the club told the Daily Mail.
“I first watched him about six years ago playing for Almeria on loan from Atletico Madrid and he was more box-to-box, attacking even. I think we will see him with the shackles off because he did very much play in a constricted midfield unit [at Atletico].
“He could be the final piece of the jigsaw that makes Arsenal challenge for the title.”
While Partey’s signature was secured, there have been several top talents to slip Arsenal’s recruitment net down the years.
Legendary former boss Arsene Wenger has revealed on a regular basis that he came close to landing some superstars of world football. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Yaya Toure are among those that the Gunners passed up the chance to sign, with Barcelona legends Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique also evading their clutches.
Cagigao added on what might have been: “There are players that get away every season and it's public knowledge that Messi, Pique, Juan Mata and others were very close. In Messi's case work permit issues ensured that we could not get as close as we wanted.”
Arsenal are no longer dwelling on mistakes of the past, with Arteta having helped to turn the club around, landing FA Cup and Community Shield honours along the way.