Old truisms of Arsenal are disappearing.
Thomas Partey’s £45 million transfer to Arsenal means more than just a new player for the club’s fans. It shows a new, stronger direction.
The Gunners made a statement of intent by signing Partey, which indicates a willingness to correct long standing issues at the club, regardless as to whether the Ghanian succeeds at Arsenal or not.
Some recent developments at the club have not put the club hierarchy in a positive light, like the redundancy of 55 staff members in August and Mesut Ozil offering to pay the wages of the club’s mascot rather than him losing his job.
I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous & loyal mascot @Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years. As such, I’m offering to reimburse @Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player… pic.twitter.com/IfWN38x62z
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) October 6, 2020
Despite these headlines, important changes are being made at the club. Raul Sanllehi, former head of football at Arsenal left his role in the summer to give Arteta more recruitment control. The North-Londoners have been promoting stories of Arteta changing the culture at the club.
Since then the club has signed players in key areas such as Willian and Gabriel without breaking the bank. Partey’s signing is one of the biggest developments yet at the Emirates that suggests the Spaniard is being given enough backing to rectify long-standing issues at the club.
Partey is long overdue
Throughout the 2010s, criticism of Arsenal’s spine was endless. Gary Neville famously labelled Arsenal’s approach to strengthening their midfield “naive or arrogant” in 2015. That criticism stood true until this summer.
This was an issue in the squad long before 2015, and had been until now. Whether this was down to a lack of effort to improve this area of the squad or poor judgement in signing players to do so is irrelevant. It was an obvious problem that went without fixing for many years.
Having lacked a holding midfielder capable of providing stamina and defensive balance to his side, Partey’s signing shows the club have a manager able to identify and rectify this, as well as ownership inclined to allow him to do it.
The 27-year-old averaged 3.4 interceptions/tackles, as well as 46.8 passes per 90 minutes in La Liga last season. Partey’s Champions League performances last season caught the eye of many, as he helped Atleti defeat the then European Champions, Liverpool, at the Wanda Metropolitano and Anfield.
Thomas Partey’s game by numbers vs. Liverpool in March:
120 minutes played
25 forward passes
12 ball recoveries
5 tackles won
2 aerials won
A dominant performance on the big stage. 👏 pic.twitter.com/LB0Cxt4Ke0
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 7, 2020
At £45 million, the Ghanaian international appears to be a smart piece of business, as well as a crucial one. The signings of Willian and Gabriel look set to be similarly shrewd deals.
This summer the club spent far less than last summer, but this summer’s signings have addressed the issues in the squad more productively.
Arteta is building a team in his own image, with a clear idea of what is required to play at Arsenal. Without his ideal playing squad, we are seeing the key principles of his management style.
Already looking well adapted to the demands of the Premier League, and with more time to implement his philosophy, these new signings should only complement the Spaniards work further.
Regardless of wages or status, aligning with his principles is the only way to play for his side, as seen when the 38-year-old left the club’s highest-earning player, Mesut Ozil, out of the Europa League squad.
Arteta has been widely praised for his efforts at changing the culture at the club. Casting out players like Matteo Guendouzi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan who he didn’t believe were pulling in his direction has been key to this.
Now able to bring in players who fit in with his principles, that can bring quality to areas where the North London outfit have been lacking. Arteta’s side look set to remove the ‘soft’ and ‘weak’ labels they have been given in recent years.
Having won six of their seven games this season, including two victories over Liverpool via penalty shootout, the changes at the Emirates are beginning to translate into results.
With none of the club’s traditional rivals enduring a strong start to the season, an opportunity is there for Arteta’s side to improve on recent seasons performances.
The present and future are looking promising at Arsenal for the first time in a number of years.