3 Budget Arsenal Alternatives for the “Thomas Partey” Role

Arsenal, Thomas Partey (Photo by Xaume Olleros/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Thomas Partey (Photo by Xaume Olleros/Getty Images) /
4 of 4

1. Denis Zakaria – £30-40m

Arsenal, Denis Zakaria
Arsenal, Denis Zakaria (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

He’s Swiss, he’s from Borussia Monchengladbach, and he’s a defensive midfielder. We already have one player that fits that description, and he’s finally starting to carve out his place. But trust me when I tell you, Denis Zakaria might just be the best player I can imagine for this Arsenal squad. Good enough that I just broke my own price limit. Deal with it.

Standing at an overpowering 6’3,” the Swiss is, quite honestly, the perfect player for the Arteta system. His role at Gladbach is to cover pockets of space behind the attackers, reclaim and recycle possession, drop between the centre-backs in defensive situations, and screen the back-four in a low-lying block out of possession. Sounds good? Get’s better.

He’s absolutely rapid – he man-marked Timo Werner for 90 minutes and came out smiling this past February for goodness sake – and he played as the deepest man in a three-man midfield, tasked with being the first line of distribution to break the press, and can do so with passing or dribbling.

light. Related Story. Is Thomas Partey Really the No. 6 Arsenal Need?

He’s physically dominating, and suffocates rather than merely defending his opponents. His positional instincts are razor sharp, his tactical awareness the same, and he even chips in the occasional goal, scoring six in his last two seasons in Germany.

And just for some icing on the cake, he’s only 23, and is already averaging 88% passing per game for one of the most excited high-pressing sides in world football. And with an average of 6.5 defensive contributions per game to his name – that’s no mean feat in the Bundesliga – he’s an all-around stunner.

Pros of Signing Zakaria

Think I’ve already summed them up pretty well, no? He’s been an absolute world-beater for Gladbach this season, and despite a season-ending injury for the Die Fohlen, he’d be an excellent addition to the squad.

He’s everything and more that we’d need in a defensive midfielder, and he’s got a solid decade of playing time ahead of him.

Cons of Signing Zakaria

There are only two issues. The first is injury history, the second price. His value could possibly extend around £10m above the £30m we should be paying due to his ludicrous ability, but this is a buyer’s market. The rather unfounded links to Chelsea and Liverpool are what worry me, more because any move the Gunners make will immediately hit the news.

And while he doesn’t have a history of injuries, he’s not selected to return for Gladbach for the indefinite future, after a nasty knock to the knee turned out to be far worse than expected, eventually requiring surgery. Like Kieran Tierney, we’d be taking a punt on a player who wouldn’t be able to debut at first, and who would have to work his way back in. But considering the example of that is KT, I’m already sold.

Next. Lucas Torreira Imminent Departure is Arsenal's Biggest Gain. dark

We always knew finding a permanent replacement for Arsenal’s defensive midfield would be difficult. The club were getting somewhere with Lucas Torreira, but his deficiencies in possession declared him a bit-part player. But here are three defensive-minded players who would have an instant impact, and I imagine it won’t be too long before Arsenal come calling for at least one.