Thomas Partey is bringing back “memories of Patrick Vieira” at Arsenal because he is “much more” than a holding midfielder, says Alan Smith.
The Gunners invested £45 million ($59m) worth of faith in a highly-rated Ghana international on the final day of the summer transfer window.
Partey had been a long-standing target for those at Emirates Stadium, with his obvious qualities registering on the recruitment radar in north London for some time.
Mikel Arteta was convinced that the 27-year-old can add important qualities to his squad.
A positive first impression has been made by a new recruit, with Partey catching the eye on his first start for the Gunners in a Europa League win over Rapid Vienna.
Comparisons to Arsenal icon Vieira were already being made prior to that contest, with another all-action performer looking to follow in the footsteps of some legendary figures.
Smith believes Partey is capable of living up to his big billing, with the former Gunners striker telling the Evening Standard: “There was nothing sloppy about Thomas Partey. He hardly put a foot wrong in a performance that showcased an impressive passing range that should encourage anyone in front to keep making runs.
“Holding midfielder? No, Partey is much more than that. He proved that emphatically with some incisive play that suggested a useful understanding could quickly develop with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“Without wishing to get carried away, the way he bossed the game, Partey brought back memories of Patrick Vieira. For the first time since the majestic Frenchman’s time, the Gunners may now boast a dominant force in the middle of the park who can change a game as well as mix it physically.”
Partey is not the only fresh face at the Emirates to be offering cause for optimism, with Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes another of those to have slotted seamlessly into the fold.
“I want to mention Gabriel, something of an unsung hero since arriving this summer,” added Smith.
“He is one of those central defenders you do not always notice, thanks to his positioning and anticipation. Because of that, he will often get his body in the way or head on the ball — something proper defenders always enjoy.
“A great athlete, he covers the ground beautifully, which should come in handy with Vardy around. And at 22, the Brazilian will only get better. The early signs suggest he will be around for a while.
“So will Partey, I hope. These two, in fact, could form key parts of a spine that Mikel Arteta is trying to construct. That kind of backbone, missing for some time, is a must in any successful side.”