‘Partey the player Arsenal have needed for a long time’ – £45m star makes Xhaka & Co look better, says Gilberto

The former Gunners midfielder has heaped praise upon the Ghanaian after his stellar display against Tottenham

Thomas Partey is the “kind of player Arsenal have needed for quite a long time”, according to Gilberto Silva, who says the £45 million ($62m) star makes Granit Xhaka and Co look better.

Arsenal triggered the release clause in Partey’s contract at Atletico Madrid to lure him to Emirates Stadium in October, bringing a long-running transfer saga to an end in the process.

The 27-year-old has struggled to make a sustained impact due to a string of fitness issues, but he was back to his best during Sunday’s derby win over Tottenham, leaving Gilberto convinced that he completes Mikel Arteta’s midfield.

What’s been said?

Asked if Partey is the best holding player Arsenal have had since he left the club in 2008, Gilberto told Astro SuperSport: “I guess so. In my opinion, I agree with you.

“He’s a good player. He’s the type of player Arsenal were missing, I’ve spoken a couple of times about it.

“They have good players in the [central midfield] position but not to sit and give Arsenal the stability they have.

“Look at the game [against Spurs] it was great to see how he managed his game, how he managed that position, helping [team-mates].

“You know what is very important about this particular position? This is a very particular position because not every time you get the credit you deserve.

“That’s okay, it’s fine, because you have to understand that. But this guy, when he understands the position like Partey, look at his game. He made the others a lot better.

“He makes Xhaka look better in the game, he made the defenders look a lot better and comfortable when the ball was against them.

“I think the way he manages games, the way he positions himself, is very important for Arsenal. He is the kind of player Arsenal have needed for quite a long time in my opinion.”

Partey’s record at Arsenal so far

Partey, who signed a five-year contract at Emirates Stadium when he joined the club from Atletico, has been restricted to just 21 appearances across all competitions to date this season.

The Ghana international has yet to open his scoring account for the Gunners, but has set up two goals for his team-mates.

Consistent minutes have been hard to come by for Partey because of various injuries, with a hip issue keeping him out for the longest period between December and January.

The bigger picture

Partey was colossal as Arsenal beat Spurs 2-1 at the Emirates on Sunday, and produced a similarly strong display when Arteta’s side beat Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier in the season.

He has proven that he can add a physicality to the Gunners’ midfield which has been missing since the glory days of Arsene Wenger’s reign, but must now show that he can maintain full fitness for a significant run of games.

The north London outfit can still mathematically finish in the Premier League’s top four and they also have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, with Partey’s continued presence likely to be crucial to their chances of achieving their goals come the end of the campaign.

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