Arteta hails ‘special character’ Partey as midfielder makes Arsenal return
€50m signing has only made six appearances since arrival because of thigh injuries
Thomas Partey will return to the Arsenal midfield for Thursday night’s Premier League game at home to Crystal Palace. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Thomas Partey is a “special character” who raises the level of those around him, according to Mikel Arteta, who is excited about welcoming back the midfielder when Arsenal face Crystal Palace on Thursday.
Arsenal signed Partey from Atlético Madrid for €50 million in October but he has made only six appearances because of thigh injuries. His only outing in the past two months came in December’s defeat at Spurs, when he was withdrawn midway through, but he is fit to return and Arteta hopes this week marks a new beginning to the Ghanaian’s career at the club.
“I think he’s got a different presence – he brings something different to the team,” the manager said. “It’s not just about his talent, it’s not just about his physicality, it’s who he is as a person. He makes players better around him and that’s a big, big quality.
“It’s incredible that we are in January, we signed him in October and we have only played him [a handful of times]. We haven’t really seen the impact he could have on the team. Obviously we have missed him . . . I think it’s going to be a big bonus if we can keep him fit.”
Partey made an early impact with an excellent performance in the win over Manchester United. His lack of action since has taken a toll on and off the pitch, complicating his broader settling-in process as well as his integration into the side.
“When you are injured you feel first of all the responsibility when the club has made the effort we made to sign him,” Arteta said. “He was so willing for months to be joining us. He really wants to be a part of it and knows how much he can help. Then he had to deal with the injuries, with the lockdown and moving into a new place, and that’s been tough for him.
“That’s why sometimes he was rushing and wanted to do everything straightaway, because he’s so willing to come back, he doesn’t want to be alone at home. He’s in a really good place, he’s settled really well in the dressingroom, around the staff. He’s a special character and hopefully we can see him on the pitch finally.”
Arsenal’s other major signing of recent months, Gabriel Magalhães, is also available after recovering from Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson believes Eberechi Eze showed “naivety” when he became the latest footballer to breach coronavirus protocols but the Crystal Palace playmaker is free to face Arsenal on Thursday after being fined.
The 22-year-old attended his former club Queens Park Rangers’ FA Cup tie with Fulham on Saturday and failed to wear a mask at all times. Eze was also pictured with only one seat between him and another person in the directors’ box.