Thomas Partey's name is on the lips of many in the football world. The towering Ghanaian midfielder, who stands at 1,85m, showed tremendous growth in the recently-concluded Spanish Primeira Division campaign where he plays for Atletico Madrid, and he will look to carry that form through to this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The 25-year-old defensive midfielder was colossal for Atleti with some commanding and consistent performances across the season. His displays did not go unnoticed, with reports now linking him with some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs such as Manchester United and Barcelona.
Thomas Partey's early life
For Partey, it all started in his home city of Krobo Odumase, where he played for Krobo Youth Football. He continued his youth development at Odometah FC in 2011 and it was while he playing for them that he was spotted by an agent.
According to reports, Partey was not the player who had initially impressed the scout on the day but rather, was second on the scout's list. With the intended target reluctant to leave Ghana for greener pastures, Partey was next in line and speedily got his father to sort out his paperwork so that he could leave the country.
It took nearly a year for all the paperwork to be completed and he could board his plane to Spain where he was to undergo a trial with Atletico Madrid.
Partey in Madrid
Partey doesn't have a fond memory on the manner in which he left Ghana.
"I got into a car and they took me to the capital, gave me my passport and said 'today you travel,' he recalled.
"My dad wasn't at home, nobody from my family knew anything, nor that I was going that day because if they were told then it would cause a lot of problems.
“My parents had accepted the decision when they found out”.
Partey's trial went well and started his first professional career with Atletico Madrid B side in 2012. He was accommodated at the club’s residencies in Boadill, which helped him settle in and focus on his football. It wasn't long until he made his impression and would get a call-up to train with the La Liga side only four months later.
Partey's Big Break
To help him settle and get used to Spanish football, the Wanda Metropolitano side loaned Partey to Real Mallorca for the 2013/14 season. After impressing during his time with the Los Bermellonel, he spent the following season on loan at UD Almeria.
These performances were exactly what he needed and after a chat with coach Diego Simone, he found himself in the Atleti squad from the following season.
Since then, things have gone well for Partey and Atletico Madrid. Over the last few seasons they have regularly competed for the La Liga title and impressed in the Uefa Champions League. Last year, he signed a new five-year contract with the Madrid side, which runs until 2023 and has a reported buy-out clause worth upwards of £50 million.
With yet another commanding season under his belt, Partey will now switch all focus and attention to Egypt and he will look to add to the 17 caps he already has for Ghana. He received his first cap in 2016 and was in and out of the team initially.
Since then he has earned a spot in the Black Stars midfield with his relentless running ability from box to box. Arguably his most notable performance for the Black Stars was during a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Congo,when he scored a hat-trick.
In 2018 he was voted in the Caf Africa Best XI and will look to continue this forward momentum for his side in the Africa Cup of Nations, when they face Benin in their first match of Group F. Also in Group F they will face Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau.
Only time will tell if Ghana add - for the first time in 37 years - to their four Afcon titles.