Mikel Arteta says Thomas Partey is very much in his plans for the year ahead and is certain the Ghana international can play alongside Declan Rice as Arsenal look to challenge on four fronts.
The 30-year-old midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to Saudi Arabia and there has been talk of interest from Juventus but it sounds like the Gunners may err on the side of caution when it comes to sanctioning his departure having already sold Granit Xhaka.
“Thomas Partey is a super important player for us and for me and we want him to be in the team, that’s for sure,” Arteta told a press conference held at MetLife Stadium ahead of tonight’s pre-season friendly with Manchester United.
He added: “Every time I spoke to him, every time I’ve had conversations with him, he’s wanted to stay with us, so there’s nothing there at all.
While Declan Rice looks certain to be given regular game time in midfield following his club-record move to Emirates Stadium, Arteta believes the England international can be used alongside Partey, who he expects to challenge for a place in the starting lineup.
“They can play together and that was in my plans,” noted the boss. “If you want to improve the squad and have more quality, we need players that can play together, but we need players in the same position that have to fight for their places.
“It’s something that we haven’t had over the last few years and we wanted to improve that, and that’s why we brought Declan as well.”
Given Arsenal also have Jorginho on the books, Arteta clearly senses an opportunity to make his midfield, and the team as a whole, more unpredictable. At the moment, it’s a process of test and learn in training.
“Yeah, our Plan A1, A2 and A3, that’s how you want to look at it,” he said.
“We are looking at options, training different options and you have to understand that sometimes you have to leave players to see. Because when you see them training, when you see how they connect with each other, they give you a lot of information, it doesn’t have to be all the time.
“You probably think that they give you a lot of information, and that they need to take that information as well.”