Martin Keown claims to see shades of Patrick Vieira in Thomas Partey, considering Arsenal’s £45 million ($59m) summer signing to be “silky smooth” like his legendary predecessor in the Gunners engine room.
The north London side have been crying out for another commanding performer at the heart of their team.
World Cup winners Vieira and Gilberto Silva once provided those qualities as Arsenal enjoyed Premier League title triumphs under Arsene Wenger.
Mikel Arteta is being charged with the task of recapturing former glories, and the Spaniard is following a familiar blueprint.
He snapped up Partey from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day, with Keown seeing an immediate return being offered by the Ghana international, who caught the eye on his first start.
The former Gunners defender told BT Sport after watching the 27-year-old control proceedings in the 2-1 Europa League win over Rapid Vienna: “I think you know when you see a player immediately add that touch of class, who wants to play and makes things happen. He's so silky smooth, he's oozed class and been everywhere.
“This is where he looks like Vieira for me when he's travelling with the ball and making things happen.”
While Partey is very much part of the present and future at Emirates Stadium, fellow midfielder Mesut Ozil appears to have been consigned to the past after being left out of the domestic and continental squads.
Keown said of the German playmaker: “I think it's extremely sad, he's a quality player. When someone is that talented it has to be an application thing – effort, not putting in what they want.”
Arsenal are looking to move in a direction that no longer involves Ozil, with Arteta putting his own stamp on a squad inherited from fellow countryman Unai Emery.
Part of that process has seen Emi Martinez offloaded to Aston Villa, with Keown questioning whether the right decision was made there as first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno made a costly error in the hard-fought win in Vienna.
The ex-Gunners centre-half said: “Having let Martinez go, who was magnificent, to see Leno making these types of mistakes, you wonder whether it was the right call.
“It was a difficult night for Leno. The team had their backs to the wall but showed very good character to get back into it.
“A couple of changes were made. I thought when they changed it actually and went to a back five, the pictures then became more familiar to the players and they found a way to win this match.”
Arsenal will be back in Premier League action on Sunday when they play host to Leicester.