Saturday, July 22, 2023

Mikel Arteta gives strong verdict on Thomas Partey future amid transfer speculation

Mikel Arteta has strongly rebuffed suggestions that Thomas Partey could leave Arsenal this summer.

The Ghanaian has been heavily linked with an exit after attracting interest from teams in Saudi Arabia and Italy. understands that a Saudi club had made an offer of personal terms to Partey, but it appears that he is set to stay in north London.

When asked whether the defensive midfielder was still in his plans at a press conference in New Jersey ahead of Arsenal’s pre-season friendly clash with Manchester United on Saturday, Arteta responded: “Without a question of a doubt. Thomas is a super important player for us and for me. I want him to be part of the team. That’s for sure.”

When later pushed on whether he expected Partey to say the Spaniard simply responded “yes,” before going on to state that the 30-year-old’s desire was to stay in north London: “Every time I spoke to him and had a conversation with him he’s ready to stay with us. For me, there’s nothing there at all.”

One of the reasons many have questioned Partey’s future is the recent arrival of Declan Rice. Arsenal’s plan for their club record signing is to play him primarily in the number six role where Partey featured last season. Arteta though feels the pair can play together if needed.

“They can play together,” he said. “That was in my plans. If you want to improve the squad and have more quality you need players that can improve the squad and players in the same position that can fight for the same places. It’s something that we haven’t had in the last few years. We wanted to improve that. That’s why we bought Declan as well.”

Partey joined up late with Arsenal squad for their preseason tour of the USA. Despite arriving in Washington D.C. he was absent for their clash with MLS All-Stars, but should be in contention to feature when they Manchester United at MetLife Stadium on Saturday.

Elsewhere Arteta provided a far less convincing update on Nicolas Pepe’s future. The Ivorian has not travelled with the Arsenal squad as he continues to recover from a knee injury, but Arteta did little to quash the expectation that he will leave the Emirates this summer.

“At the moment he’s recovering from an injury,” the Spaniard said. “That’s why he’s not here. He had a spell on loan and we wanted to get more from that loan spell. We’ll have to see when he comes back. Have a chat with him. Understand what he plans are and make a decision.”

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