Arsenal are an entirely different team without Thomas Partey.
Over in Lille, midfielder Boubakary Soumaré could be the carbon copy that Arsenal need. Central midfield is a position which has troubled the club for years. As such, the Gunners parted with £45m last summer to secure the services of Thomas Partey, one of the world’s best midfielders.
Although there have been some questions as to whether he is being used properly, early indications suggest that Partey will be a success in red and white. His performance against Manchester United was sensational. He carried the ball strongly and was a constant thorn in the side of Paul Pogba.
However, rather unsurprisingly, Partey – who rarely missed any games during his time in Spain – sustained an injury to his left thigh merely a week later. He would be sidelined for a month, only to re-aggravate the injury upon his rushed return. His enforced absences have highlighted the need for a carbon copy, as no other midfielder in the squad can replicate what he does.
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Before paying Partey’s release clause, one player who Arsenal considered to address their midfield troubles was Lille’s Boubakary Soumaré.
Similarly to the Ghanaian, Soumaré’s size, athleticism, and technique make him the perfect modern midfielder. A powerful and skilful ball-carrier, a calm and intelligent passer, and an aggressive tackler, the 21-year-old Frenchman possesses a wide range of qualities.
He was ultimately deemed “too raw“, but Arsenal would be wise to return for the strapping midfielder, especially given the financial problems facing French football. Clubs were already vulnerable due to the early cancellation of the 2019/20 season, but the collapse of the multi-billion euro broadcast deal has exacerbated the issue.
Lille are in a “majorly dire financial situation, with debts of between €130m and €200m”. Owing to the existing situation, they may need to sell key players in January.
Mikel Arteta‘s side are a completely different team without Partey. They need another player of his athletic and technical profile. Boubakary Soumaré has all the tools and limitless potential. He must be a primary target in 2021.