Taking a look at what Thomas Partey has to offer in terms of stats/visuals, here’s Jon Ollington – @jonollington
Thomas Partey finally signed for Arsenal after the club activated his £45 million release clause late on deadline day, becoming the most expensive Ghanaian footballer of all time in the process. The complete midfielder combines many of the strengths found individually within Arteta’s current crop of midfielders rolled up into one elite athlete. His arrival will offer a level of protection and physicality arguably missing since the days of Patrick Vieira.
Having started his career at Atlético Madrid in 2013, Thomas spent time away on loan at Mallorca and Almería but returned to Atlético in 2015 where he’s been a permanent first-team fixture ever since, featuring in 30+ games for the past three seasons. The majority of those minutes were played anchoring the midfield, acting as both facilitator and destroyer, but Thomas has also spent time further up the pitch as a box-to-box midfielder, as well as filling in at right-back and right midfield.
The Ghanaian profiles well as a combative midfielder: he stands at around 6′ (1.82m) and boasted a good record in the air last season, winning 66% of all aerial duels and 70% of all encounters contested in front of Diego Simeone’s back-four. Thomas makes on average 2.3 tackles and 1 interception per game, covering the lower and middle thirds from flank to flank in the process, thus providing excellent protection for his back four.
More impressively, the 27-year-old was the only La Liga midfielder to play 1,000+ minutes last season who could boast greater than 84% take-on success, 88% pass accuracy, 65% aerial duels won and 60% total duels won.
As is to be expected from any elite deep-lying midfielder in modern-day football, Thomas Partey impresses in possession and is confident when receiving the ball from his defence. He possesses the tools that enable him to start transitions and connect the defence to attack. 83% of his 1,704 passes played last term successfully found a teammate, while 11% of those passes were progressive and on average covered a total distance of 301.5 yards towards the opponent’s goal per game.
This output was only bettered in Arsenal colours by Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi, both of whom played significantly fewer minutes. Thomas also averaged 6.33 per 90 passes into the final third (top 10%) and made around one key pass per game.
He also truly excels in ball retention and although usually deployed as one of the deeper-positioned players in El Cholo’s squad, Thomas still manages to complete 2.2 dribbles per 90 (top 10%) with an 84.6% success rate. Even when under pressure, he’s able to play out of the opposition’s press, as he consistently looks to move his team forward. He isn’t afraid to pull the trigger from range either – despite it not being central to his role at the Wanda Metropolitano, he contributed 4 goals and an assist across La Liga and the Champions League combined last term.
Thomas Partey has already played for Atletico Madrid 188 times and, having only just turned 27, is at the peak of his powers. It may seem as if he can do it all, although statistically speaking he doesn’t excel at any single aspect of his game. Instead, he is able to pass it like Xhaka, carry it like Ceballos and tackle like Torreira.
In bringing these qualities together in one package, his arrival promises Arsenal a depth of midfield combinations that they have been lacking for a number of years.