Kevin Campbell believes Thomas Partey’s ‘energy and doggedness’ makes him perfectly suited for the anchor role in Mikel Arteta’s midfield – but says the £45million summer signing is also more than capable of playing further forward for Arsenal.
Arteta made it clear he was determined to strengthen in the middle of the park at the start of the summer and the Gunners’ hopes of securing either of their top targets – Partey and Houssem Aouar – looked dead in the water with just hours remaining of the transfer window.
Lyon held firm with their £55.5m asking price for Aouar, 22, and managed to fend off Arsenal’s interest but the north London outfit activated Partey’s release clause at Atletico Madrid to successfully land the 27-year-old before Monday’s deadline.
Partey should be in line to feature for Arsenal after the international break when Arteta’s side travel to the Etihad to face Manchester City and Campbell is confident the Ghanaian will turn out to be an ‘absolutely tremendous signing’ for his former club.
‘I’m really pleased about this signing. We know we’ve been crying out for that dynamic, ball-winning midfielder who can do it all and I definitely know it’s him,’ the ex-Arsenal striker told YouTube channel Highbury Squad.
‘I’ve watched him numerous times in Spain and he’s as good as it says on the tin.
‘He’s a really good player.’
On Partey’s best position, Campbell explained: ‘He can play either as the holding player himself or he can even play a bit further forward.
‘But I think we need his energy and his doggedness and his toughness as the holding player.
‘So I think there’s going to be flexibility there. Whether it’s part of a two or part of a three, I think Thomas Partey obviously has a massive role to play especially defensively when we don’t have the ball.
‘I think he’s going to prove to be a player like a – listen, I don’t want to make too many comparisons – that [Patrick] Vieira type or that Gilberto [Silva] type player, where you can rely on him in there.
‘He will put himself about, break things up, win it and he can do it all. He can run with with it, he can play, he can score goals, he can shoot from distance.
‘I think this is the signing Arteta really, really wanted and we got him which is great.’
Campbell says he can even envisage Partey playing in a more advanced role, with Mohamed Elneny sweeping up behind him.
‘I honestly think Thomas Partey can play with [Granit] Xhaka because that gives a balance as Partey is right footed and Xhaka is left footed so I think that will work,’ he added.
‘I can see Partey playing with [Dani] Ceballos in there, I can see him playing with Elneny in there.
‘And I’ll tell you why Elneny might suit Partey, because that then allows Partey to break forward a bit more. Elneny doesn’t have that in his locker but at least Partey’s got the energy.
‘He can break and get back whereas normally when these midfielders break forward, it takes them a bit of time to get back.
‘Thomas Partey can get forward and get back, he’s got the legs to do it and that’s why they might compliment each other.
‘I think Partey could play in there with Xhaka and Ceballos a little bit further forward.
‘Partey is the key piece for that midfield as we talk about the spine but that spine’s going to have to develop.’