Thomas Partey may have had to wait for his first day at Arsenal but the new midfielder says the fans made him feel at home immediately.
Signed on deadline day from Atletico Madrid, the Ghana international didn’t have time to visit London before rushing off to Turkey on international duty.
In the ensuing week, the €50 million signing says he was flooded with love on social media from Gunners supporters across the globe who are excited to see what he can bring to Mikel Arteta’s midfield.
Yesterday, following games against Mali and Qatar, the 27-year-old finally made it to London Colney where he met his new teammates, posed for those all-important welcome pictures taken and sat down with the club’s in-house media.
“I feel so happy,” he told Arsenal.com. “I already feel part of the family because the fans have received me, everybody is saying nice things about me and, you know, to be received like this is a great feeling.
“This a great club, it is one of the biggest clubs in Europe and it is a club that deserves to be aspiring for greater things and I think it doesn’t happen in a day, we have to work hard to make sure we are back to where we belong. I want to make everyone feel happy.”
Thomas went on to hold a small press conference with a select group of broadcasters and print publications. Nick Ames of the Guardian and Sam Dean of The Telegraph (£) have both penned profile pieces worth your time.
Softly-spoken but quietly confident in his own abilities – I guess you would be after five years playing for Diego Simeone – he said: “I think there is no pressure on me. I like to challenge myself, I like new challenges. It’s all about learning fast, learning quickly.”
It remains to be seen how Mikel Arteta utilises Partey (the boss says he brings ‘adaptability’) but there’s an anticipation that he’ll bring a physical presence along with technical quality to a midfield that for years has supposedly lacked the former.
It’s a slightly lazy narrative – if it was that easy to replace or replicate Patrick Vieira’s qualities, everyone would have done it – but it’s one that the new boy is happy to tackle face on.
“Everything is possible,” he says. “I know I am not going to give up even if [in] bad situations I need to work hard. I have been there, I have been in situations like that. Now I think I know that working hard and giving all of my best in every game will determine if I live up to [the fans’] high expectations.”
Thomas certainly isn’t new to Arsenal’s prestigious history. Growing up in Ghana he was regularly exposed to Arsene Wenger’s sides, including the Invincibles.
“I have followed Arsenal for a long time,” he told Arsenal.com. “When we were young we used to watch so many games, when they had the Invincibles season in 2004, they were so great. That is when they won the hearts of so many people.
“There were a lot of great players [here at the club] before. Ian Wright was here, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp was one of the greatest, and that season was great.”
Good luck to the new boy, we’re excited to see what he can do.
Looking for further reading?