Merson, the former Arsenal and Aston Villa playmaker, was hugely impressed by Partey’s dominating midfield performance against Manchester United on Sunday and believes he will make a ‘massive, massive difference’ to his former side.
Partey was signed from Atletico Madrid for a relatively frugal £45m and Merson is astonished that the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City weren’t involved in the hunt for his signature.
‘It was a good away performance, it wasn’t great, I wouldn’t get carried away and say oh my god it’s a turning point,’ Merson told Sky Sports.
‘They beat a terribly, terribly poor Manchester United team on the day. They’ve done a job, we’ve seen them lose those games over the last five or six years. But I think Partey’s a massive, massive difference. I mean, what a signing.
‘When you talk about signings in the summer, he’s got to be number one. I cannot believe, without being horrible here, that Arsenal got him.
‘ I don’t mean that in a horrible way, they’re all crying out for it – I know Manchester United are top-heavy and they’ve got Fred, McTominay and Matic, but they haven’t got a Partey.
‘Manchester City too, Fernandinho’s coming towards the end, Rodri hasn’t really pulled up any trees. You’re thinking wow, who didn’t see this?
‘When you’re talking about holding midfield players and you want discipline, there’s no better place for discipline than Atletico Madrid. They play the ultimate disciplined way. They can go away and shut up shop, then other days they can go and attack teams. He’s a massive part of that.
‘There’s no point getting beaten by Aston Villa next week now. You’ve got to go back to back. I said the other day, can I see Arsenal winning seven or eight on the trot? No, I can’t. But they need to start putting four and five wins together and if they can do that, who knows.’