After joining Mallorca on loan from Atletico Madrid within the summertime of 2013, a 20-Twelve months-outdated Thomas Partey would continuously introduce himself with a smile and the linked phrase.
“I’m Thomas Partey,” he would divulge, “no longer fiesta!”
The play on words – fiesta technique event in Spanish – straight endeared him to his new colleagues. “Each time our paths crossed within the years after that, he would continuously divulge that linked thing and laugh,” José Luis Oltra, Mallorca’s manager on the time, chuckles down the cellular telephone. But it used to be Partey’s footballing capacity that made potentially the most lasting influence.
Partey arrived on the island as a highly-rated but untested midfielder. He left it a Twelve months later having taken the biggest step on a avenue that would possibly presumably per chance per chance within the crash lead him to the stop. From Mallorca, he went to Almeria, again on loan, earlier than returning to Atletico to turn into a key participant under Diego Simeone.
Now, the Premier League beckons with Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta hopes Partey will transform his midfield and of us who possess adopted his occupation from the open can understand why.
Precision passing, tactically aware
At Atletico, his capacity used to be apparent prolonged earlier than he used to be sent on loan. Genuinely, Javi Baños, a pale childhood coach there, completely wanted to peep him play as soon as, in a friendly for his or her U18s against Getafe, to be cheerful that his trial duration wants to be made everlasting.
“You may presumably per chance additionally fleet note that he used to be a participant with attributes which were very evolved for his age,” Baños tells Sky Sports.
“Above all, it used to be the precision of his passing. He used to be very efficient when it comes to his starting up. He additionally lined a bunch of ground and positioned himself smartly on the pitch tactically.”
Till then, Partey had been playing for a side known as Tema Adolescence in Ghana, where he came to the recognize of an agent named Jose Jimenez, who offered to organise a trial for him at Atletico. Partey, obvious to map shut the choice, would later engage packing his bags and leaving without even telling his family.
It used to be a jump of religion but he would no longer remorse it. Partey signed for Atletico soon after his trial and earlier than prolonged he used to be excelling in their academy.
“Atletico Madrid continuously possess stable avid gamers in their childhood teams,” says Baños. “Over the years I used to be fortunate adequate to coach guys treasure Lucas Hernandez and David de Gea. However the reality is that Thomas used to be a participant who made the incompatibility. He had huge doubtless.”
Partey used to be impulsively promoted to Atletico’s Juvenil A (U19) side and at this time adequate Simeone and his assistant German Burgos become attentive to the little one’s skills. At the tip of his first Twelve months there, Partey even joined the senior squad on a pre-season time out to Colombia.
“He used to be a extremely magnificent participant to them because he used to be diverse for his age,” says Baños. “He used to be a extremely disciplined participant, as he is now, and he used to be very grateful and respectful too.
“I continuously bear in mind that each and each day after coaching, he would shake your hand and thanks for the session and the advice you had given him. He has continuously been a extremely real participant to possess within the dressing room.”
These traits are now section of the allure to Arteta, who values group spirit and togetherness highly, but for Partey at that age, the competition for areas at Atletico used to be such that it used to be hard to peep a route into the first-group. Simeone would possibly presumably per chance per chance additionally already call on experienced trio Gabi, Tiago and Mario Suarez in central midfield. Koke and Saul Niguez were next in line.
Finding out within the direction of loan spells
So, on the open of the season wherein Atletico would plod on to grab an ancient title, Partey ended up joining Mallorca, who had steady been relegated to Spain’s second division after a 16-Twelve months spell in La Liga.
Partey’s completely previous senior abilities had advance with Atletico’s B group in Spain’s third tier but he fleet established himself there, displacing experienced membership captain Jose Luis Marti in central midfield and going on to impact 38 appearances over the direction of the promoting campaign, scoring five targets.
“He ended up being an undisputed starter,” Oltra tells Sky Sports. “He labored laborious and showed very real issues.”
For all his undoubted quality, however, Partey nonetheless had exceptional to be taught.
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“There were cases when he would lose the ball in unhealthy areas, shut to our central defenders,” says Oltra.
“He learned handing over that zone hard and the first plod wasn’t continuously easy for him. He made some errors but we were continuously on top of him, exhibiting him movies. He used to be very receptive to our advice and to every thing we tried to coach him.
“He already had a bunch of huge attributes, but he used to be a boy who wanted to develop and enhance. He used to be a exceptional skilled, which is crucial for any footballer. He sorted himself, he cherished football and he lived a extremely organised lifestyles. These factors possess helped him attain the extent he’s at now.”
Partey soon slash out the errors and there used to be a concerted effort to bulk up bodily too. “He’s a bodily wonder now but he didn’t possess the energy he has now aid then,” adds Oltra. “He labored laborious on that, and on his stamina as smartly. His capacity to stand as a lot as tension improved and at this time he used to be ready to attain extra issues with the ball, treasure making an are trying prolonged-vary shots.”
That sight for goal would turn into a feature of Partey’s sport – “he now rankings six or seven cases per season, which is huge for any individual who starts the occupy-up play and operates in entrance of the defence,” notes Baños – however the instances were hard at Mallorca. As a substitute of the anticipated wrestle for promotion, the season become a brush with relegation.
The exposure helped Partey’s constructing, despite the indisputable reality that, and the linked used to be just of his season with Almeria in La Liga. It become into one other wrestle against the fall – a wrestle they within the crash misplaced – but Partey made 32 appearances, scoring four targets and impressing again.
“He’s a boy who understands football smartly,” mirrored pale Almeria manager Sergi Barjuan in a recent interview with El País. “I aged him as an attacking midfielder, a central midfield and even a centre-aid.”
Partey used to be creating smartly, his capacity to fit into diverse positions a mirrored image of his tactical intelligence, but aid at Atletico the competition for areas remained fierce. In the 2 seasons after his loan spell with Almeria, Partey made exclusively nine La Liga starts for Simeone’s side and a range of of them came on the just rather than within the guts.
One other participant would possibly presumably per chance per chance additionally possess sought an exit. As a substitute, Partey resolved to repeat himself.
I non-public the article he has improved most in contemporary years is his closing plod. He’s no longer steady a defensive midfielder. He’s now a extra adventurous participant
“Thomas has real of us around him,” says Baños. “His brokers continuously give him real advice and he’s a participant who knew how to seem forward to his probability. There were avid gamers who were forward of him and he understood that. He’s terribly excessive participant and what’s fundamental is that he’s additionally a group participant.”
Atleti breakthrough, Simeone praise
Partey’s versatility has prolonged been a functional asset to Simeone, but last season, following the departure of Rodri to Manchester Metropolis, the Ghanaian used to be within the crash ready to nail down his most smartly-liked do of residing within the side, as a deep-lying central midfielder.
The role came with noteworthy defensive accountability but Partey persisted to contribute in an attacking sense too.
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“I non-public the article he has improved most in contemporary years is his closing plod,” says Baños. “He’s no longer steady a defensive midfielder. He’s now a extra adventurous participant, with freedom in his movements and scoring capacity.”
Oltra sums it up succinctly: “He’s a boy who does every thing smartly.”
His completeness would possibly presumably per chance per chance additionally presumably be viewed throughout last season but it used to be in particular apparent within the direction of Atletico’s Champions League marketing campaign.
Partey, who shone in both legs of the last-16 hang over Liverpool, made extra tackles than any of his group-mates within the direction of Atletico’s run to the quarter-finals and yet additionally ranked top for probabilities produced from open play and passes into the closing third. Most productive two Atletico avid gamers attempted extra shots.
It be little wonder Simeone has advance to tag him so highly. “Thomas is an exceptional participant,” he said last Twelve months.
Extra recently, the Atletico boss added Partey is real adequate to play for “any of the finest teams in Europe”. “Thomas is the one who most efficient understands his do of residing,” he said. “The transition from defence to attack, taking pictures, scoring, providing assists and playing passes between the traces.”
Suited to the Premier League
His Atletico group-mates truly feel the linked technique.
“I’d viewed him play for Atletico but I didn’t realise how real he is,” said Kieran Trippier, who joined the membership from Tottenham last Twelve months, within the direction of a recent appearance on The Beautiful Game podcast. “He’s nice, his physicality, how he breaks up play. Technically he’s obtained every thing. I manufacture no longer narrate he would possess an discipline with the Premier League.”
It be a note shared by Baños, who admits he would enjoy to peep him be half of Arsenal having additionally labored as a scout for the Gunners.
“I possess continuously said that he is an unparalleled participant for the Bundesliga or the Premier League because of the his form of play,” he says. “He’s a participant who is ready and smartly-suited to prevail at a membership treasure Arsenal.”
Baños can testify to Partey’s management as smartly as his abilities. Baños is eager at Alcobendas Sport, a fourth-tier membership primarily based entirely in Madrid wherein Partey and his representatives possess a stake and where, with the 27-Twelve months-outdated’s steering, proficient younger avid gamers from Ghana and other African countries are offered the choice to launch their careers in Europe.
“He wanted to back others attain what he did,” explains Baños, “to lift over avid gamers from his country and gives them the choice to attain Spain.”
Partey has no doubt made potentially the most of his non-public alternatives. There is rarely any ask about that. But these mentoring responsibilities need to map shut a backseat now that a pass to Arsenal has materialised. It is time for Thomas Partey – “no longer fiesta!” – to map shut the next step of his bolt within the Premier League.
How Arsenal bypassed Atletico to web Partey
Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth explains how Arsenal dealt with La Liga, rather than Atletico Madrid, to seal the signing of Thomas Partey:
“A fixed throughout this transfer window has been Thomas Partey. The one fixed from the Atletico Madrid side used to be they’d no longer be negotiating except a membership met the £45m liberate clause. The technique the liberate clause works in Spain, Arsenal didn’t possess to barter straight with Atletico Madrid.
“All they needed to attain used to be web one in every of their attorneys or officers to plod to the La Liga headquarters, attach down £45m and they had permission to talk over with Thomas Partey.”