‘I like to be both defensive and offensive’ – Thomas Partey opens up on preferred midfield role for Arsenal

Partey likes to attack and defend
Partey likes to attack and defend (Picture: Sky Sports)

Thomas Partey has admitted he doesn’t want to be restricted to a holding midfield role at Arsenal and aims to improve the side both defensively and offensively.

The Gunners signed the Ghana international from Atletico Madrid after activating his £45million release clause on deadline day.

Partey has operated as a defensive midfielder in both of his two starts for Mikel Arteta’s side and has already shown flashes of his ability to break up play.

Partey was Arteta's marquee summer signing
Partey was Arteta’s marquee summer signing (Picture: Getty Images)

But the 27-year-old has insisted that he wants to play a more expansive role for the Gunners than merely protecting the backline.

‘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,’ Partey told Sky Sports.

‘I want to attack like Yaya Toure and defend like Michael Essien so to have both qualities is good.

‘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.’

Partey was a key cog in Diego Simeone’s Atletico side before making the switch to the Emirates and admitted that he learnt a lot from the Argentine coach.

‘Simeone has helped me a lot,’ Partey added. ‘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.’

MORE: Paul Merson frustrated with Mikel Arteta’s use of Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

MORE: Atletico Madrid agree deal for former Arsenal target Geoffrey Kondogbia as replacement for Thomas Partey

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