Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey seems destined for a move to the Premier League. Would he fit best at Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United or elsewhere?
Thomas Partey is perhaps the only one at Atletico Madrid who will want to remember this season.
Indeed, the 2019-20 campaign has been a difficult one for the capital club. Atleti have gone through something of an existential crisis as Diego Simeone has attempted to shift the club’s identity from underdogs to bona fide elite outfit. It’s not yet clear if that transition will be a successful one.
The Ghanian at the heart of Simeone’s side cannot be blamed for what has happened, though. While teammates like Koke and Saul Niguez have floundered, Thomas has excelled.
There are few midfield anchors quite like the 26-year-old, few as capable of protecting the back four and opening up space in attack. His €50 million release clause understandably has suitors – especially those in the Premier League – queuing up.
But which of those interested clubs would be most suitable for Thomas? Where would he be able to take the next step of his career? Where would he be able to fulfill the potential he has demonstrated for Atletico Madrid this season? The decision Thomas makes now will likely define the rest of his career.
Arsenal have been linked – with the player’s father going as far as confirming talks – and it’s certainly true that they could use as midfielder like Thomas, someone to drive them forward from deep. The pace of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe on the left and right would give the Ghanian an outlet, although Mikel Arteta’s possession-based style might limit his mobility.
On the other side of North London, Tottenham Hotspur would also have a place for Thomas. Jose Mourinho’s counter-attacking philosophy would give the 26-year-old the opportunity to stretch his legs and play much like he does at Atleti. What’s more, the likes of Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Heung-min Son would give Thomas the kind of movement he needs in front of him to flourish.
Pep Guardiola wouldn’t permit Thomas the vertical freedom he has under Simeone, while the Ghanian wouldn’t be guaranteed of a starting place at Liverpool, particularly with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain already giving Jurgen Klopp a driving force from deep. The Reds will almost certainly focus their transfer funds elsewhere.
Manchester United’s case might be the strongest of all, though. At Old Trafford, Thomas would be given the chance to form a midfield trio alongside Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba (unless something changes). The energy those three would bring would be immense and with Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and potentially Jadon Sancho in attack United could become an irresistible force.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might wish to target a more orthodox pass-master to sit at the base of his midfield, but if he wants to lean into the fast and furious identity he has imposed on United over the past two seasons then Thomas would be the ideal signing.
He wouldn’t be the only one with that opinion this summer.