Mikel Arteta says Thomas Partey has a ‘huge role’ at Arsenal this season after an injury-hit first year at the club.
Signed for £50 million with a view to bringing a new dynamism to the Gunners midfield, the Ghanaian missed large chunks of last season and has already sat out the opening three games of the new campaign due to an ankle injury.
Back in full training and likely to line up in the centre of the park against Norwich on Saturday, hopes are high that the 28-year-old can assert himself as a talismanic presence within the new-look squad.
“He’s been missed for the last year or so because he missed almost six months of competition last year, which is a lot,” noted Mikel Arteta.
“He also came very late in the transfer window [last year]. It’s a player that has to be one of the leaders, he has to be the boss in midfield and one of the senior players that has to carry responsibility and lead the young players. We have been missing that big time.
“He’s a player that has that winning culture because he has won a lot in the game already. To have this kind of players in the team is extremely important. He has a huge role to play in the team.”
Partey has made 33 appearances since joining the Gunners last October averaging just under 64 minutes a game.
Given the ankle problem he’s been nursing, we’re not necessarily expecting him to do a full 90 minutes this weekend, however, in the absence of Mo Elneny – out with a hamstring problem – and the suspended Granit Xhaka it’s vital he does get up to speed quickly.