Transfer Talk podcast: Should Thomas Partey be Arsenal's primary target?

European football writer and author of "Do You Speak Football?" Tom Williams joined Sky Sports' Pete Graves and Dharmesh Sheth for the latest edition of the Transfer Talk podcast

Thomas Partey graphic
Image: Thomas Partey remains on Arsenal's radar this summer transfer window

On the latest Transfer Talk podcast, the midfield make-up of Arsenal and Tottenham are discussed with Pete Graves and Dharmesh Sheth joined by European football writer Tom Williams.

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Does Torreira hold key to Arsenal spending?

Lucas Torreira, Arsenal training
Image: Lucas Torreira could be part of a Domino Effect involving Partey

It could be a busy final 10 days in the transfer window for Arsenal, but only if the club are able to agree to the sale of midfielder Lucas Torreira.

Torino remain interested in the Uruguay international and the two clubs were discussing a season-long loan with an option to make it permanent next summer, with the Serie A club paying £22m over two equal instalments.

"Torreira could hold the key to unlocking what is Arsenal's primary target this summer," Dharmesh Sheth told the Transfer Talk podcast. "Arsenal want the Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey and we've known that for quite a few weeks.

"Atletico Madrid want Torreira - but the one issue is that Atletico want the player on loan. Arsenal want to sell or loan with the obligation to buy. Money from the sale of Torreira would allow Arsenal to part fund the £45m release clause in Partey's contract.

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"Arsenal may feel if they can do business with Atletico, it could quite easily smooth a path for them to get Thomas Partey. There's still a bit of work to do for Arsenal to convince Atletico to part with the necessary funds. As a result, Arsenal are looking at alternatives and one name being mentioned to me is Chelsea's Jorginho.

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"Mikel Arteta was Pep Guardiola's assistant when Manchester City wanted to sign him from Napoli only for him to join Chelsea in the summer 2018."

Would Aouar be the better option?

Lyon's French midfielder Houssem Aouar attends a training session at the Restelo training ground in Lisbon on August 18, 2020 on the eve of the UEFA Champions League semifinal football match between Lyon and Bayern Munich.
Image: Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar remains an alternative to Partey

Another player that Arsenal have been linked with this window has been Lyon's Houssem Aouar, with the Ligue 1 club's president Jean-Michel Aulas telling French publication Le Progres: "Financially, Arsenal are like everyone else (in a difficult position). And Houssem could say to himself that the best thing would be to stay with us."

European football expert Tom Williams believes there remains a strong chance the 22-year-old will depart the Groupama Stadium before the end of the summer transfer window.

He said: "Partey, Jorginho and Aouar are three different types of central midfielder but Aouar is the most exciting. He's a wonderfully creative, attacking midfielder who we saw in the Champions League last season.

"His performances against Juventus and Manchester City impressed and he was one of the stars of the tournament. He moved up a level last season with nine goals and nine assists in all competitions despite Ligue 1 being frozen in March.

Houssem Aouar, Lyon
Image: Aouar scored nine goals and provided nine assists last season for Lyon

"He has a profile that Arsenal don't currently have in that area of the pitch. Joe Willock can play there, but Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos tend to play a little bit deeper.

"We know that Lyon are willing to sell and they know that big clubs are interested but they were hoping that they'd be able to get around €60m for him but in the current situation, that is problematic.

"I still feel if they get a decent offer for Aouar between now and the end of the window, they will sell because they were looking to sell a big player this summer and he is their most bankable asset at the moment."

Will Alli stay at Tottenham?

Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur gestures during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Tottenham Hotspur and Ipswich Town at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on August 22, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Image: Dele Alli is the latest to be a recipient of tough love under Jose Mourinho

The future of Dele Alli at Tottenham was also discussed by the panel after the England midfielder's reported falling out with Jose Mourinho.

Speaking this week, Mourinho told Sky Sports News he is "convinced" that Alli will remain a Spurs player beyond the summer transfer window.

Alli, still only 24, made his return to the Tottenham team on Thursday in their Europa League qualifying win over North Macedonian outfit Shkendija, having been dropped by Mourinho for the two previous games, leading to reports he could leave the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Dharmesh Sheth told the Transfer Talk podcast: "To say it's not been the best start to the season for Dele Alli is probably an understatement. He was subbed at half-time in the season opener against Everton, doesn't make the squads at all for Tottenham's next two games, and he was hooked after 60 minutes during their win in the Europa League qualifier on Thursday so it's not been great.

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli 4:10
Former Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson and former England Women forward Lianne Sanderson discuss Dele Alli's future at Tottenham.

"Despite what Mourinho says, there are short and long-term issues for Alli at Tottenham. One source has told us that the club would be willing to sell him, but club sources expect him to stay and fight for his place in the team.

"That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone at all, as if they did say he was for sale his price would go down. There would of course be suitors with PSG interested but Spurs aren't under any pressure to sell him at this stage as he is contracted until 2024.

"As for the player himself, it's not an ideal situation for Dele because he needs to be playing regular football to make sure he's part of Gareth Southgate's squad for the European Championships. If he stays, it'll be interesting to see how many games he gets between now and the window reopening again in January. If he's still being left out of the squad, there might even be an issue where Alli forces Tottenham's hand."

Spurs head coach Jose Mourinho has accused Dele Alli of being 'lazy' in training 1:58
Dele Alli's lack of consistency has left Jose Mourinho questioning the midfielder's Tottenham future, Stephen Warnock and Sue Smith told The Football Show.

Tom Williams added: "I don't really buy Jose's line of wanting a balanced squad, because Dele offers something that no one else in that Spurs squad offers which is a goal threat from a central attacking midfield position.

"OK, his form hasn't been great and he hasn't scored too many goals of late but that is his role in the team. Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso can play there but neither possess the same goal threat as Alli does. It would ease the burden of goals on Harry Kane, and we know that's substantial as he's Spurs' only proven centre forward.

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"If you're composing your matchday squad and balance is important, I wouldn't understand why Alli wouldn't be involved in some capacity because his skill set is so unique. As ever with Mourinho, you do wonder if this has been trotted out to the media as something he doesn't even care is that believable. His recent form has been patchy but we all know he's a massive talent.

"The difficulty with seeing him at PSG is that they already have so many attacking players who have to play. The first names of their team sheet are Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria. They've also just spent €50m to make Mauro Icardi's move permanent so that's four superstar attacking players that almost have to go into the starting XI. The thing that means it might makes sense is that PSG don't have a player with Alli's exact profile."

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The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday, October 16 at 5pm.

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