Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal were very short of options in the centre of midfield by the time they made their move for Thomas Partey.
After sanctioning loan moves for Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira, it looked like the Gunners might try and get through until January with just Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos, Mohamed Elneny and Joe Willock as viable central midfield options.
It wasn’t until very late on deadline day that the club decided to trigger the Ghanaian’s release clause and, in the blink of an eye, we swapped €50 million for the 27-year-old.
Only after he’d signed did we find out that Arsenal had tracked the player for a couple of years and that personal terms had been agreed well in advance.
Having called for the club’s owners to be bold in the transfer market, Arteta is quite obviously pleased to recruit a player of Partey’s profile.
Facing the media ahead of Saturday’s trip to Manchester City, he said: “We need a balance between a lot of young players that we have in some breakthrough and development phases and others who are at the peak or twilight of their career.
“We believe that he [Partey] was the right recruitment for us in terms of age and his history, his career, where he’s been educated, the amount of experience he has, the quality he has to adapt to our game and to this very competitive league that we are involved in.
“As well, because of the numbers. We were very short in midfield and we needed to strengthen there.”
He added: “I think he’s going to give us a bit more versatility in our way of playing. He can play in two or three positions as well when we’re able to change formations or game plans against certain opponents. At the moment, I think he gives us something that we don’t have in the team.”
While Partey insists he doesn’t feel under any pressure, the club’s big financial outlay will inevitably mean his early performances are closely scrutinised. Arteta believes the new man has the pedigree to deliver but he may need a small window to settle in his new surroundings.
“There’s a lot of expectations but we have to give some time to players to adapt,” said the boss.
“The Spanish league and the English league are completely different. The style of play between Atletico Madrid and us, there are some big differences there as well.
“What is unquestionable is the quality of the player, the level he’s been playing at for the last five to six years. That will obviously be a big help. If he has the support of all the coaching staff, the players and the fans, which I can see he does, then the adaptation will be quick.”
Having said he’d give the midfielder a couple of training sessions to get to know his new teammates, Arteta now has to decide if Partey makes the travelling squad for tomorrow’s game with Manchester City. Not a bad place to make your debut…