Thomas Partey is likely to join Manchester United or Arsenal this summer, according to a report in The Athletic.
The Atletico Madrid player is considered one of the best holding midfielders in the world and would provide a natural successor to the aging Nemanja Matic.
He has played 174 times for the Spanish side and has become a key figure since being moved to his natural holding midfield position after Rodrigo joined Manchester City last summer.
He also has 26 international caps with Ghana and has scored nine goals for the national side, including a hat-trick in a World Cup qualifier in 2017.
The Red Devils were reportedly interested in Partey last summer, but a deal never materialised.
Most of the rumours circulating in the media at the moment are linking the Gunners with Partey, especially as the player’s father claimed that the London club had made contact with his representatives recently. However, there have been a few interesting snippets that suggest that the Red Devils are lining up a bid for the player, who has a release clause of €50 million (£43 million).
First there was a report from Spain at the end of February saying that ‘two clubs in the Premier League, that are used to paying 80 million for central defenders have made contact with Thomas Partey’s representatives’. This suggests Liverpool and Manchester United, and not Arsenal.
Second, there was an interesting Q&A with The Athletic’s chief football correspondent David Ornstein two weeks ago in which he said ‘Some contacts tell me United are not in for [Jack] Grealish and are focusing more on a holding midfielder than his kind of position’.
Third, this week Ghanain journalist Saddick Adams claimed that ‘a close source to Thomas Partey told me the player doesn’t want to extend his stay at Atletico and is favouring a move to the Premiership. And that loves the United link. Deal could even be sooner than expected.’
This brings us to The Athletic’s latest report. They note that Partey is careful to leave his options open, telling CNN in February that ‘playing in England is the dream of every footballer’ and ‘everybody wants to try different teams to see what would happen. You never know where you will end up.’
There is increasing pressure on Atleti to give Partey a much improved contract. He is reportedly earning just €2 million (£1.75 million) a year, or £33,000 per week. This makes him the Rojiblancos’ 16th highest earner. It would certainly not be difficult for United (or Arsenal) to offer a significant improvement to that figure.
Partey’s former youth team coach Javi Banos has told The Athletic that the 27-year-old is ready to leave Spain.
‘He loves Atletico a lot, as he really appreciates what they have done for him’ Banos says.
‘But he knows he is someone who has the level to play for any club, in any league. And he is a professional and wants to be at a team which shows that they want him and will fight for him.’
‘In today’s football, that is shown by the offer of a good contract. If clubs want to have great players, that is what they must do.’
With The MEN reporting this week that the Red Devils have cooled interest in another holding midfielder, West Ham’s Declan Rice, all evidence points to an increase in activity around Partey, who is a significantly more accomplished player at the top level who yet could cost £27 million less than his English counterpart.
A no-brainer, perhaps.
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