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Thomas Partey: What to expect in 2021?

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Arsenal’s top midfielder hasn’t had the best starts in north London, and the Ghana star is hoping for a fortuitous reversal next year

2020 has been a mixed bag for Thomas Partey.

After a reasonably good individual year for Atletico Madrid, one of Africa’s brightest exports secured their dream transfer to Arsenal on deadline day.

The late move was celebrated by the majority of the Gooners due to the profile of the Ghanaian star and his rounded nature, which solved some of their midfield issues.

Some supporters felt the club should have prioritized signing a more creative player like Houssem Aouar, but he understood and accepted Partey’s arrival from Atletico.

Partey: The Story of 2020

While Diego Simeone’s side appeared to have plateaued in 2019/20, Partey rose in popularity and was linked with some of the best European teams, including Arsenal – the team he eventually joined – and Chelsea during one moment.

Besides the fact that Los Rojiblancos‘Difficulties, West Africa was one of their best players in the round of 16 of the Champions League against then-defending European champions Liverpool, whom they eliminated 4-2 on aggregate.

Simeone’s side had actually struggled in La Liga before the lockdown but were the main beneficiaries of the suspension from football in March. They were able to rally after the lockdown to win seven of their top 11 games to finish third in the league, 17 points behind Real Madrid.

Seemingly in decline and struggling to compete with a weak Los Blancos and Barcelona even weaker, it seemed like the time was right for Partey to leave Madrid.

Arsenal under Mikel Arteta presented an interesting adventure. After winning the FA Cup by defeating Manchester City and Chelsea in the semi-finals and the final respectively and beating the new Premier League champions in the Community Shield, the Gunners’ change made sense, in theory.

While Goal argued before the end of 19/20 that a transfer to Arteta’s squad was odd due to Arsenal’s lack of Champions League football and pleaded for Chelsea to be chosen instead, the The 27-year-old traded Madrid for north London in early October.

Sadly, injuries have spoiled the England midfielder’s time so far, while the miserable run of results leading up to December has left Arsenal closer to the bottom three than the top four.

Partey’s quality has shone in the matches he has played, most notably at Old Trafford where he hosted a masterclass with Mohamed Elneny as the London giants beat Manchester United 1-0; as he drew criticism in some parts over his decision to more or less substitute for the 2-0 derby loss to Tottenham Hotspur in early December.

With a return date still unknown, the Ghanaian has certainly had an unforgettable start to Arsenal and hopes for improved luck in the New Year.

Thomas Partey - Arsenal

Partey: Any transfer rumors?

No. It will take the most dramatic turn of events to see a player being chased by the club consider leaving in January or even next summer.

Partey: a great ambition for 2021

Two months ago, after West Africa signed for the Gunners, the goal was certainly for the ex-Atletico star to increase the team’s prospects as she sought to return to Europe’s premier club competition.

Now, with the seemingly dire situation at the three-time Premier League champions, finishing in CL places will mark a brilliant first year for the midfielder, regardless of the faulty start he might have had.

If qualifying via a top four turns out to be out of reach, winning the Europa League – which guarantees an automatic place in the continent’s prestigious centerpiece – will also suffice.

Either way, bringing Arsenal to the Champions League for the first time since 16/17 will be huge for the Gunners who have fallen behind domestically and on the continent.

Partey: a great fear for 2021

On an individual level: if injuries persist and the midfielder is unable to play a meaningful role for the rest of the season.

For the club: if Arsenal completely misses European football and must play 21/22 without continental football.

The seemingly inconceivable worst-case scenario will be for the Gunners to suffer the ignominy of relegation from the Premier League.

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