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Thomas Partey talks Deadline Day move to Arsenal and striking the midfield balance

Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey: "I like to be both defensive and offensive... I want to attack like Yaya Toure and defend like Michael Essien"; Man Utd vs Arsenal is live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm on Super Sunday; Kick-off 4.30pm

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New Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey reveals how his £45m move to north London from Atletico Madrid happened on Deadline Day

Ahead of Man Utd vs Arsenal this weekend, live on Sky Sports, Thomas Partey sat down with Patrick Davison to discuss his Deadline Day move to Arsenal and why he wants to be like Yaya Toure and Michael Essien.

Partey was a long-rumoured target for Arsenal and despite the chance for a deal this summer appearing to have come and gone, the move was back on as we headed deep into Deadline Day.

With a plethora of Partey-based puns at their disposal, the Gunners soon announced the Ghanaian's arrival from Atletico Madrid late in the evening, although Partey woke up with little knowledge of any deal in the works.

"It was my first time [moving on Deadline Day], I'd never had that before," he told Sky Sports' Davison ahead of Manchester United vs Arsenal on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.

"I wasn't thinking of anything [about a move], I was talking to a friend that I train with to go and train in the morning, then my agent phoned me and said 'we have to go to this place to sign this paper in case we have to sign some papers for you'.

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"So we did that and since we left in the morning, we could not go back home. We went to a restaurant to eat and the chef said 'don't leave us today'. I replied 'what do you mean?' and he said today was the Deadline Day and not to leave. I think my agent knew something about that and he said 'nothing will happen, don't worry'.

"From there, I think they spoke to Edu and he said we had to do this today. I was like 'how are we going to do this today?' and then we had to go and do medicals and whatever we had to do.

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"That's how everything happened and after everything was done at about 12.30am, my brothers were home and said 'what's going on?' because no one knew anything. I left home early in the morning and I went back home that late with no news until around 1am when everything was OK then the news came out.

Thomas Partey made his home debut against Leicester
Image: Thomas Partey has already played three times for Arsenal since his Deadline Day move

"They said 'why didn't you tell us?' and I replied 'I can't say anything, you'll just have to see the news' and that was it.

"I was supposed to be with the national team and I had to delay it [meeting up with them] by two days. I called the coach and told him I had to do a Covid test, I cannot tell him anything because I don't know what's going on, so I told him I had to do the test. When they saw the news, they said 'why didn't you tell us, you have to tell us everything', I said 'this is normal, I didn't know anything until the last moment'.

"I took it easy and I wasn't nervous because I stayed one week with the national team, tried not to lose faith because I was playing games with Atletico Madrid so I was OK already.

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"But I got advice from my agent to not get hurt because you have so many matches to play, but I just need to play like myself. I played both games [for Ghana] for 90 minutes and then I had to come to London and start playing again.

"I want to be a better footballer with a new challenge. I want to be here because more people said 'your quality is best for the Premier League' so I want to see why and this is what pushed me to come here."

'I want to attack like Yaya and defend like Essien'

Image: Thomas Partey says he is working on his defensive qualities under Mikel Arteta

So what sort of player have Arsenal acquired? He has already made three appearances with two starts - one of those in the Premier League - and despite being predominantly a defensive midfielder, Partey also enjoys the attacking side of the game too.

He explained: "I like to be both defensive and offensive. I know whenever I am in the opposite area, I have chances for a goal and I think defensively, I want to be stronger. I want to attack like Yaya Toure and defend like Michael Essien so to have both qualities is good.

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"Whenever there is a serious game, or in any game, I like to go with surprises. Most people see me as a defensive midfielder but with my intelligence and how I read the game, if we're near the end of the game and we're going to finish with 2-0, that's when I go for my goal.

"Playing in the midfield, you have to be mentally quick and be intelligent in how you position yourself and get the ball. Mikel [Arteta] is helping me a lot because we always have the ball so you have time to think and position yourself and I think with time, I'll get used to everything and most things will come after that. I think everybody will know and we'll see what will happen."

The 27-year-old spent five years in the Atletico Madrid first team under Diego Simeone and revealed the advice the Argentine manager has given him.

Thomas Partey in action for Atletico Madrid
Image: The Ghana international spent five years playing for Atletico Madrid's first team

Partey added: "Simeone has helped me a lot. Before, I was just a good player but then he spoke to me and said 'if you want to be among the best, you have to be the best. Every good player is good offensively but not all players are good defensively', so he gave me that.

"This is what we [at Arsenal] are working on [defensive qualities as a midfielder]. I only arrived three weeks ago and I think at the moment, I'm adapting with the positioning and after that, I'll continue working hard on how to move freely.

"You don't always have to be positioned as the coach said, you have to be free and create spaces because you are on the field and know what is going to happen. With confidence and understanding your team-mates, you'll be able to put all of that into the game."

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