Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta has offered some insight into why Ghanaian international Thomas Partey has struggled to settle in London following his Transfer Deadline Day move from Atletico Madrid in the summer.
With his arrival greeted with fanfare and excitement, Partey has yet to make a long and consistent impression on Arsenal fans and the latest was the player’s poor display against Slavia Prague in the Europa League on Thursday night.
Partey struggled badly and didn’t even complete the 90 minutes, with Mikel Arteta bringing him off just over 10 minutes from time, replacing him with Mohamed Elneny.
So, what is going on with Partey? Why has he so far struggled to make the sort of impact in north London that so many were expecting?
“The biggest difficulty he has had is that he has not been fit,” Arteta told reporters before Sunday’s Premier League trip to Sheffield United. Then, every time he was fit he missed the next game and was out [again].
"For a long time, physically, he has not had time to prepare himself to play at the highest level. Obviously, that has an impact because the level in the Premier League is high and how fit you are is key.
“He has not been in a position to be able to perform at the level he can. Up to this point, he has not had that possibility.”
There’s no doubt Partey’s time at Arsenal so far has been disrupted massively by injuries.
After arriving on the final day of the window, he made his debut as a late substitute against Manchester City in October before impressing in his first start away from home, at Rapid Vienna in the Europa League.
The difference he was going to make to Arteta’s team was already abundantly clear and that was demonstrated again in impressive fashion when he produced a midfield masterclass in the 1-0 win at Manchester United in November.
At that point, it looked like Partey would go to become the dominant force in Arsenal’s midfield, the kind of transformative presence that the team had been lacking for years.
But the thigh injury he sustained against Aston Villa the following week halted him in his tracks.
Although he returned a month later, the 27-year-old didn’t even make it to half-time against Tottenham in his first game back before a recurrence of the injury forced him off and left him facing another four-week spell in the treatment room.
Partey has been playing catch up ever since, with another injury – this time due to a hamstring problem – also forcing him to sit out the majority of February.
“It is very difficult to make a real assessment because he has missed six months,” said Arteta. “That is a long time.
“He is still adapting to our way of playing which is different to what he did at Atletico Madrid.
“He has had some big sparks and we can all see what he can bring to the team.
“Now it is about finding that consistency level that we need from him and building a team that can play around him because he has that capacity.”