Unai Emery supposedly had his request to bring Thomas Partey to Arsenal denied in the summer. It’s scary the damage that decision has made.
Hindsight is a real mofo sometimes. Here Arsenal have let Unai Emery go and reports have emerged that over the summer, he had requests for three players denied by the club. Those three were Harry Maguire, Wilfried Zaha and Thomas Partey.
Honestly, I get why Maguire and Zaha were. I think we have the right defensive pieces, we just need them all to be put into place (and arrive, in William Saliba‘s case). As for Zaha, he was always overpriced. Nicolas Pepe will still pay dividends.
But Thomas Partey? You cannot tell me a single good reason why £42m to solve all your midfield problems isn’t worth it.
Unai Emery never jives with Lucas Torreira. He just never did. Torreira is of then smaller defensive midfielder variety, and he’s on the ground a lot, and something about that struck me as the deal breaker for our former manager.
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But we didn’t have another defensive midfielder, so Emery asked Granit Xhaka to continuing failing at the defensive side of things while providing the offensive upshot.
So many of the problems we are having these days can be traced back to having no defensive solidity. Matteo Guendouzi is great and I will always advocate for Granit Xhaka, but there isn’t a quality enforcer with the strength to see off opposing players and shrug off counter-challenges.
That would have been Thomas Partey. If you put him at the base of our midfield, flanked by Guendouzi and Xhaka, you have sturdiness, presence, creativity, athleticism and all the good things you could possibly want.
The worst part is that there would have been no driving up the price. This was a release clause, and Partey was supposedly keen on the move. Done deal. Pay the money and call it a day, our midfield is fixed and, with it, the attack now has a firm foundation to build from and the defense has an added ally that they haven’t had in ages.
Hindsight, right? I hate it. I don’t want to sit here and think about how much this one guy would have changed, but it’s hard not to. It would have saved Unai Emery’s job. Yeah, it really is that easy. A little added pepper to the soup, which Partey would have provided, and this team would have looked completely different.