‘He has the quality to bring us one step forward’: Granit Xhaka hails £45m signing Thomas Partey having played against the Ghanaian when Atletico Madrid beat Arsenal in 2018 Europa League semi-finals

  • Partey completed his £45m move from Atletico Madrid to Arsenal this month
  • He played against the Gunners in the 2018 UEFA Europa League semi-finals
  • Ghanaian helped Atletico progress to the final 2-1 on aggregate
  • Xhaka believes Partey can add another dimension to Arsenal’s midfield
  • Mikel Arteta named Partey on the bench for Saturday’s game with Man City 

Granit Xhaka believes Arsenal’s new £45million arrival Thomas Partey will add an extra dimension to their team – having witnessed his qualities first hand.

Partey played in both legs when Arsenal lost to Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals in 2018.

Playing in his usual central midfield position, he helped Atletico mount an outstanding rearguard action at the Emirates to claim a 1-1 first leg draw having played 80 minutes with 10 men following Sime Vrsaljko’s red card.

Thomas Partey gets the better of Granit Xhaka during the 2018 UEFA Europa League semi-final

Thomas Partey gets the better of Granit Xhaka during the 2018 UEFA Europa League semi-final

Partey certainly won't be afraid to pull any punches in the heart of the midfield for Arsenal

Partey certainly won’t be afraid to pull any punches in the heart of the midfield for Arsenal

Partey then slotted in for the suspended Vrsaljko at right-back in the return leg in Madrid, which Atletico won 1-0 to reach the final.

And though Xhaka knows Partey will offer him competition for midfield places in Mikel Arteta’s team, he acknowledges he is a top class signing.

‘He played at the Emirates two years ago in the Europa League semi-final when we lost against them,’ Xhaka told Sky Sports.

‘He is a great player. If not, then Arsenal don’t buy him – so simple.

Mikel Arteta finally got his man in a £45million deal on deadline day from Atletico Madrid

Mikel Arteta finally got his man in a £45million deal on deadline day from Atletico Madrid

Partey gets his shirt pulled by Jack Wilshere during the first leg of the 2018 semi-final

Partey gets his shirt pulled by Jack Wilshere during the first leg of the 2018 semi-final

‘He has the quality to bring us one step forward. He is very, very good in the duels, his passing is very good.

‘He played in Atletico Madrid a different type of football so he can help the team and I am more than happy we have a player like him.

‘I am more than happy if we can play with each other and meet each other and start to learn each other a lot of things.’

Partey, 27, completed his move to the Emirates on transfer deadline day after Arsenal activated his release clause.

Xhaka’s Arsenal career looked over after being stripped of the captaincy last season but he has worked his way back into favour.

Xhaka has played himself back into favour at Arsenal since Mikel Arteta became manager

Xhaka has played himself back into favour at Arsenal since Mikel Arteta became manager

Partey takes on Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck during the second leg of the 2018 tie

Partey takes on Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck during the second leg of the 2018 tie

The Switzerland international added: ‘Mikel explained to me how important I was to the team.

‘Until this day the words he gave me was exactly what I wanted to hear and for me it was very important to show I will give everything for the club and the fans.

‘I’m sure we’re going back in the Champions League next season.’

Arteta named Partey on the bench for Arsenal’s visit to Manchester City on Saturday evening. 

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