Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Could Thomas Partey be a smokescreen?

Arsenal, Thomas Partey (Photo by Xaume Olleros/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Thomas Partey (Photo by Xaume Olleros/Getty Images) /

Thomas Partey isn’t a smokescreen for Arsenal

The saga regarding Thomas Partey potentially joining Arsenal has dragged on for months. To some, it almost seems almost inevitable that our drawn-out pursuit of the Ghanaian will end in failure. Having said that, could it be possible that Arsenal aren’t interested in him at all? Do Arsenal perhaps have another target in mind that the media don’t know about? All shall be explored below.

Since the arrival of Raul Sanllehi, Arsenal’s approach to transfers has changed quite dramatically. Most notably, the club have shown a willingness to negotiate with ‘super agents’ in order to land either convenient or unexpected signings. More topically, another tactic the Spaniard has brought with him from Barcelona is the smokescreen. He’ll ensure that the names of players Arsenal are ‘interested’ in are leaked to the media to increase his chance of signing someone else.

This is exactly what happened last Summer. Wilfried Zaha tore apart the Arsenal defence at the Emirates in late April 2019 and from that point onwards rumours were rife linking the Ivorian with a move to Arsenal.

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Reports suggested Unai Emery loved the player and Arsenal were doing all they could to get enough money together in order to bring him to North London.

Sanllehi even went as far as launching a measly £40 million bid for Zaha. Half what Palace were asking for. The media were led to believe Arsenal were going all out for Zaha. Realistically, our interest was at most tentative.

Another intelligent ploy used by Sanlehi was leading the media to believe Arsenal didn’t have very much money. The line of argument handed to the media was consistent throughout the window. ‘Arsenal only have £45 million.

Thus, Arsenal weren’t viewed by other big clubs as proper competitors in the race to sign big names and the likes of Napoli and Bayern certainly fell foul of this trick. These were two clubs who were incredibly interested in signing Nicolas Pépé. A man who few realized was Arsenal’s main target for the summer transfer window of 2018. As mentioned above, many were led to believe that Wilfried Zaha was Arsenal’s sole big-money target.

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However, Raul Sanlehi’s intelligent tactics worked to full effect and Arsenal swooped in pretty much out of nowhere to capture Pépé’s signature. Nobody, including David Ornstein, believed such a move was even possible.

The links concerning Thomas Partey hold striking similarities to the Zaha links. Like Zaha, David Ornstein has reported that Partey was “desperate” to join Arsenal last summer. Additionally, similarly to the Zaha pursuit, numerous outlets are insinuating Arsenal are making speculative bids for Partey.

These bids have reportedly included relatively minute sums of money alongside the offer of a player swap. On top of this, comparably to the Zaha saga, the Partey rumours have been non-stop for months. Rather frightening similarities for those who want to see Partey join Arsenal.

However, of course, there are also differences. For Zaha, the reason to move was that he was too good for Crystal Palace. The same motivation is not there for Partey. In addition, the Partey rumours have mainly been reported by lesser-known outlets rather than the more mainstream sources such as BBC or Sky Sports who were fooled by the Zaha smokescreen.

Then, of course, with the financial implications of the coronavirus, it makes sense for Arsenal to explore more financially viable options with regard to landing Partey’s signature. It’s likely the reported bids are genuine offers. The evidence would suggest that the Partey rumours are not a smokescreen.

There is no other obvious candidate in the market to come in and stake a claim of the defensive midfield role at Arsenal other than Partey and frankly, other names being mentioned such as Porto’s Danilo Pereira and Roma’s Amadou Diawara aren’t on Partey’s level. Arsenal’s pursuit of the Atletico Madrid midfielder is genuine and it’d be far from surprising to see him in our red and white jersey next season.

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Nevertheless, it’s unlikely a move will reach anywhere near completion until Atletico’s Champions League journey reaches its end. Yes, Partey is injured at the moment. But out of respect for him and his Atletico career Arsenal should encourage him to leave on good terms. When Atletico’s season is truly over. The media noises concerning Partey to Arsenal will no doubt re-emerge, perhaps just not quite yet.