Bloody hell, Edu and Vinai only went and done it.
LaLiga informed Atlético de Madrid at 11.28pm on Monday that Arsenal representatives have paid Thomas Partey’s release clause at the sports association’s headquarters.
The player has therefore unilaterally terminated his contract with our club, which ran until June 30, 2023.
Ice fucking cold. Have you ever seen Arsenal do a deal so bereft of humanity? Unbelievable. That’s a Panenka in the 90th minute of a World Cup final. That’s a rainbow flick against peak Stoke in the 1st minute. That’s rolling into a Bermondsey pub on an away day singing ‘What do you think of MILWALL.’
This transfer will go down in folklore as the moment we stopped being a banter club.
I was told over and over that Arsenal were going hard at deals, even on Sunday. Arteta and his team pushed the club as hard as they could to do as much as they could afford. I suspect the original plan was to bring in creativity, when that deal stalled because of the rumoured whisperings of Zizou, Arsenal knew the details of the Partey release clause and went to town to activate against it.
I think, on the face of, we have made an immensely positive decision to bring in Thomas Partey. He gives us control in midfield. He is explosive over short distances, he boasts power we don’t have, and I think the club is betting they can unlock a player we haven’t seen in a more expansive system.
What I love about this move is; like the FA Cup laid to rest the idea that Arteta couldn’t handle the job, this buries the notion that we need a dirtbag like Raul running our transfer business. This summer was an unbelievably tough one to navigate. We plundered a ridiculous amount of money on players in 2019 and they didn’t deliver. We had to sell this summer, restructure some debt, and probably get a bit of help somewhere from KSE (I don’t have that sourced).
We made a deal happen for a player that can greatly enhance our ability to get back into the Champions League. This move is massive. Can you name many players better than him in that role? It’d be tough.
I’ve seen some whining from the radar merchants. I can’t have it. Arteta knows a player and he has a group of excellent analysts supporting his judgement. I also find it incredibly weird to read people critiquing his age and his salary.
Firstly, this is a guy that has played consistently at the very highest level of the game for one of the best coaches in the world (188 appearances). He has been part of setup so caked in shithousery, it’s rumoured your face burns when you walk into the training ground (something we badly lack). Simeone is a disciplinarian, a fitness fanatic, and will have imbued winnertivity into the Partey’s bones.
Secondly, he has just turned 27 years old (June). When Auba’s deal finishes, Thomas will be 30. Sure, his resale value won’t be high, but this move is a shrewd attempt at Champions League qualification right now. Questions over his salary are also nonsense. Football players love to play with great names. The squad will be buzzing about his arrival, they won’t care what he earns because he’ll be worth it. This move ticks all the boxes, it’s an extremely consequential transfer for the ambitious vision the club now has.
We still lack depth when it comes to creativity. By not signing a #8, we are relying on a creatively shy group of players like Reiss, Pepe, Willian, ESR, Saka and Ceballos coming up with a more ambitious approach to their play. There’s still time to do something with one of the clubs in the lower league. Benrahma and Buendia are the standout players that still haven’t move. We have a great relationship with Brentford and we also have ESR who could be a makeweight for a season if that works. A stretch idea though, I suspect we blew all our cash at 11:28pm last night.
Still, Arteta is a progressive coach who has not shied away from reality. He knows his job is to make players better and innovate his way out of problems. Partey gives him a different set of strategems to work with. Let’s see what he can do. Worst case, we can have another crack at Aouar in January.
Quick note on the exiting players. Matteo G moved to Hertha Berlin where Jens Lehmann is on the board and acting as a Sporting Consultant. Good luck if the Frenchman makes him look silly, that’ll be a big mistake. It was also great to see LT get his loan to Atletico. The rumours we’d pulled the deal sounded wrong, petty and counter-productive. Hopefully, he proves himself under Simeone and pumps his value.
Mustafi, Sokratis, Chambers, Reiss, Kola, Saliba, and Ozil all stayed. That wasn’t great for our bank balance, but most will exit next summer on free transfers. That is a huge advantage for our Europa League push. It means we’ll have a group of players that are very capable shop-windowing themselves in those games. That’ll give our first team players one less game to worry about until February. That could reap huge rewards for injuries and freshness when we head into crunch time next year. Every cloud, eh?! Thankfully, we don’t have a manager that’ll play his full strength 11 against Dundalk.
Today is a great day. We’ve had a transfer window that felt purposeful. Each player made sense. We improved in most of the areas we set out to make ourselves better. We made the blockbuster signing we all wanted. Our spine is looking… strong. How oddly satisfying it feels to write that. On that high note, enjoy the moment, and start getting excited about the season ahead!
Pluuuuuus, listen to my podcast right now.