To say Thomas Partey’s first season at Arsenal has been eventful would most probably be an understatement.
The defensive-midfielder, who joined the Gunners from Spanish heavyweights Atletico Madrid on the final day of last summer’s extended transfer window, has seen his maiden season in England plagued by injury issues.
In recent weeks, however, the midfield enforcer appears to have turned a corner. He has featured in the Gunners’ last 12 matches in all competitions, suggesting that his injury woes are now behind him.
In what has been a disappointing campaign overall for the Gunners, who pulled the plug on their European Super League involvement on Tuesday evening, Partey will be hoping to end it with a flourish and try and guide them to UEFA Europa League success, should they be allowed to continue in the competition amid the fallout from the Super League drama.
On the pitch, although they only just managed to secure a draw against relegation-threatened Fulham on Sunday, Arsenal have produced some impressive performances recently, beating both Sheffield United [3-0] and Slavia Prague [4-0] away from home.
Whilst improvements will be needed ahead of next season, meaning manager Mikel Arteta will have to strengthen his squad in this summer’s transfer window, Partey will be hoping to be more reliable in a fitness sense and show the Arsenal faithful exactly why the club triggered the £45million release clause in his contract back in October.
For Partey’s former teammate, Saul Niguez, who remains on the books of Atletico, the Ghanaian ace has all of the credentials to get better and better, insisting he will become “one of the best in the world.”
The Spanish midfielder, as quoted by the Mail, said: “I think having a coach like Arteta at Arsenal eased things a lot for him. He knows the language and it is a culture that suits him.
“As a player he’s incredible and if he manages to keep this consistency, he can be one of the best in the world. Honestly.
“I have known him since we were 16 or 17 years old and I’ve always felt that he was going to be a very important player. But what he has lacked is consistency, because he’s capable of doing everything.
“He scores from out of the box, he makes ground, steals, distributes, runs the game himself.
“If he ever reads this, I would like to mention again that he should improve his consistency. It’s not enough just doing one good game and then not appearing in three or four.
“He has to be more intelligent in that aspect and know what he has to do on those days in which he’s not performing as well.”
Saul is also confident that Arsenal’s supporters will see the very best of Partey’s talents next season.
“I think he’s been very unlucky because of injuries,” continued the Atletico midfield ace. “It’s difficult because he started pre-season with us and then he left without finishing it.
“He tried to play every game, he got injured, then he tried to come back before the correct time.
“Everything has been a bit unfortunate, but I think next season will be a great season for him.”
Saul, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League of his own in the past, most frequently with Manchester United, is not the first person to have backed Partey to announce himself in style to the Gunners’ faithful as soon as he reaches top gear.
Back in January, Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane heaped praise on the midfielder, insisting that he will go on to be a “big player” for the north London club.
“He came in on transfer deadline day, so he never got quite up to speed, so it wasn’t a surprise that he got injured,” Keane told Sky Sports following the Gunners’ goalless draw with Manchester United back in January.
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“He’s going to be a big player for Arsenal over the next few years. His track record… he’s used to playing in the biggest games, we know the important role in the middle of the park for Arsenal, they’ve lacked the physical presence.
“I’ve got no doubt that if he stays fit – which we’ll probably see more of next season – then he’ll be a big player for Arsenal.”