BACKGROUND - WHY DO ARSENAL HAVE AN INTEREST IN THOMAS PARTEY?:
Thomas Partey is a player I've always admired and wanted at Arsenal. The reason being, we do not have a player of that profile at our club in midfield. Someone who can break the lines with his passes, is commanding, physical and at the same time has sound reading of the game so as to be able to consistently step up in key defensive moments.
Truth be told, we haven't had this type of player since the days of Gilberto and Vieira. They do not grow on trees. That explains why Arteta is reportedly interested in a player like Partey, who offers such a complete skill set. To be able to switch to a 4-3-3, it requires a complete player at the base of midfield and Partey fits this requirement.
FACTORS THAT WOULD INFLUENCE A DEAL:
#1 - Player desire to stay/leave Atletico Madrid:
As reported by the ever reliable Fabrizio Romano for The Guardian, Atletico Madrid have offered Thomas Partey a new contract, with Diego Simeone supposedly desperate to keep the player. There have been quotes by the player himself in the past expressing his love for Atletico and his desire to become a legend at the club. Just one thing to consider though - every player says such things, whilst VERY few actually follow through on their words. Look at some of our own former players such as Fabregas, Nasri and so on. Even someone like Harry Kane who has said similar things in the past is now flirting with the possibility of leaving Tottenham.
David Ornstein, who in my opinion is Arsenal's No.1 source for reliable news, stated back in November for The Athletic that Thomas Partey was 'apparently desperate' to join Arsenal last summer. Now forget 'Arsenal', we will come to us in a bit. The fact that he was very open to the idea of leaving Atletico last summer is quite telling. It's no secret that Atletico have been trying to get Partey tied to a new contract for quite a while now, but not to any avail. This tells you that he's a player that is unsure and considering his future options.
#2 - Is Arsenal an attractive proposition for Partey?
There's a few things we need to consider. Firstly, Atletico Madrid are a Champions league club. Yes I know they've struggled this season and currently stand #6 in La Liga, but with Arsenal likely to miss out on Champions League football for a 4th season in a row, we are a club in a downward spiral. Atletico, on the other hand, have been a stable club over the years.
It will be contingent on whether Arsenal can sell a project. Last summer for example, we were able to sign Pepe and Tierney despite their respective clubs qualifying for the Champions League/Champions League qualifiers.
As per Sports journalist Freddie Paxton (@Freddie_Paxton), who gets featured on outlets such as Guardian, Times and ESPN among others - Thomas Partey is keen on moving to England, amid interest from a number of Premier League clubs (including Arsenal). This news was broken a few days back.
Even the player' father speaking to Marca stated that his son would like to play in England should he get the opportunity.
In the Premier league, if you look at the top clubs, they already have players who can play a similar role to Partey:
Manchester United - Fred, McTominay, Matic (Contract Extension)
Manchester City - Rodri, Fernandinho
Chelsea - Jorginho, Kante, Gilmour
Liverpool - Fabinho, Henderson
At Arsenal, he would be a starter from the get-go and would become one of the team's main men. Along with this, bring in the fact that he was 'desperate' for an Arsenal move and the appeal of living in London, with world class training facilities and the modern stadium.
It isn't objective to simply compare one club to another in terms of their size and say 'This club is bigger, so they will get a particular player.' There are so many factors involved and Arsenal do tick most boxes in this regard.
#3 - Can Arsenal afford Partey?
As per David Ornstein - The release clause of EUR 50m proved too much for Arsenal as a bulk of our funds were set aside for a wide player (Pepe). Also, in addition to this, we signed Tierney, Martinelli, Saliba, Luiz and Ceballos (loan) for roughly around EUR 70m.
One deterrent about Partey's release clause is that while the sum seems on the lower side for a player of his quality, we need to pay this up front, which is not going to be easy at all in a time when clubs are struggling for liquidity as a result of the coronavirus crisis. This, along with the likelihood of no European football for next season makes it even trickier.
To afford Partey's release clause, we would likely have to generate good value from player sales. Considering a direct exchange deal like Lacazette/Torreira for Partey sounds way too idealistic in my opinion, but I don't want to rule out the possibility of a swap deal along with some cash. Especially considering the fact that Atletico have a long standing interest in Lacazette and have even been linked with Torreira in the past.
So in short - It will depend on cash we can generate from sales, as well as the signings we make in other positions. It is also unclear as to exactly how much existing cash we have to spend and to what degree Stan Kroenke is going to help us. But the fact that we have established contact with Partey's agent is a good sign.
TO CONCLUDE: There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the future of football, so I don't see us completing any major deals like this one until our finances are clearer. Having said that, this is one transfer saga to keep an eye on and will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I feel intuitively on the optimistic side about this one, but don't hold me to it!