Let's get one thing clear. Salivating over the prospect of Arsenal structuring a €50m deal for a footballer in the current climate seems silly. And it is.
Make no mistake, football has not escaped the consequences of the pandemic. So, to talk about how brilliant it would be for Arsenal to sign Thomas Partey for £45m quid is by no means what currently matters most.
Our beloved game is set to undergo unprecedented alterations, and it may be a while before any club can make significant investments in the transfer market, let alone Arsenal. But, as Partey continues to be linked with a move to the Gunners, perhaps it's something worth thinking about.
The first question we ought to ask ourselves is this: what is it about Partey that would make him such an excellent signing for Mikel Arteta? In simple terms, a player of his quality and experience would automatically strengthen the squad's current central midfield options.
Dani Ceballos is likely to return to Real Madrid - they set a €40m price tag, Arsenal don't look like they fancy it, and that's that. That leaves Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock. It doesn't take a genius to notice a top quality addition would be more than welcome.
Not only is Partey blessed with a natural physicality and athleticism to deal with the pace and intensity of the Premier League, but he's also spent several years playing in Diego Simeone's Atlético side. He will be no stranger to what it takes to compete at the highest level.
The current campaign might have been Partey's first playing in his preferred central defensive midfield role, but at 26, he's already got a healthy amount of top flight experience under his belt. And, as we've seen, he's developed into a player who excels on the biggest of stages.
The Ghanaian international has impressed most when the stakes have been at their highest - he shone for Atlético over the two legs of their Champions League Round of 16 victory over Liverpool, and put in another stellar performance in the Madrid derby earlier this season.
He's made the classic number five role his own over the last year - successfully blending his defensive capacities with an impressive athletic dynamism and technical assurance on the ball.
So, where do Arsenal come into this? Well, the €50m release clause in Partey's current contract is no secret. Affordable? Perhaps, but could the Gunners use Atléti's longstanding interest in Alexandre Lacazette as leverage? Swap deals look as though they could be a common practice when the transfer window opens.
Arsenal fans have also been treated to some good old-fashioned 'inside source' talk too. His agent has gone on record stating Partey is considering his future, his father has suggested his son's representatives have been in contact with Arsenal's executive hierarchy and the player himself has cited his ambitions to prove himself in the Premier League.
It remains to be seen whether the club could find a way to structure a deal in a post-coronavirus market. But Partey would certainly tick Arteta's boxes ticks.
Like he was for Unai Emery last summer, the Ghanaian is understood to be among one of the current head coach's primary targets in the next window. The Telegraph are the latest outlet to report on Partey's desire to move to the Emirates, so it appears the interest is mutual.
Arsenal, who are out of the Europa League, 9th in the Premier League table, have just announced a £27m loss in their most recent accounts and negotiated a 12.5% paycut with their players, are DEFINITELY about to spend £50m on Thomas fucking Partey.— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) April 30, 2020
But. And there is a big but.
Partey plays for a side who not only regularly qualify for the Champions League, but also tend to compete until its latter stages. Arsenal, on the other hand, have become a fixture of the Europa League during the last three seasons, and face the prospect of missing out on European football entirely next season.
It's also worth noting that Arsenal aren't the only club interested. There's talk of both Manchester clubs and PSG, all three of whom have significantly larger financial muscles to flex. With more money on the table, as well as the lure of European football, the Gunners may not be able to compete. If Partey is truly set on an Atlético exit, he won't have a shortage of suitors.
As well as potentially missing out European riches, there is also no match-day revenue and uncertainty over broadcast earnings. The club recently posed an annual loss too, so we ask, is it realistic to even think about spending £45m on one player?
Furthermore, it is common knowledge that Partey's party of representatives are after a more lucrative contract than the one he is currently tied to at Atlético, which he signed back in 2018. Reading between the lines, is it a coincidence that talk of an exit has surfaced amid aims of signing a more lucrative contract?
Partey currently earns €2m a year, making him the club's 16th highest earner, as per The Athletic. Yet he's played the third-highest number of minutes this season, and is firmly established as one of the club's most pivotal players. Fellow midfielders such as Koke and Saul have recently signed far more lucrative deals. Might Partey be holding out for a bumper renewal? Fuelling uncertainty over his future wouldn't be an unheard of way to go about forcing the club's hand, would it?
It's all possible. But, at the end of the day, the prospect of Thomas Partey joining Arsenal this summer, whatever his or the club's thoughts may be, is becoming increasingly unlikely. Football, and particularly the transfer market, cannot escape the pandemic's wrath.
Arsenal fans can continue fantasising over the possibility the club can complete a deal if Partey truly does have his heart set on a move to the Emirates. But, as with much of life at this moment in time, we simply don't know what the future holds. Speculate as we might, it's not business as usual at the moment. All we can do is wait for football's readjusted landscape to re-emerge. When that might be is another question...
Source : 90min