Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez has backed his former teammate Thomas Partey to reach the very top at Arsenal.
Partey, 27, joined Mikel Arteta’s side from the Spanish giants for £45m in the summer window but his maiden campaign has thus far been beset by injury problems.
The Ghanian has completed the full 90 minutes in an Arsenal shirt just eight times across all competitions this season and is yet to truly re-establish the form that saw his stock initially skyrocket under Diego Simeone at the Wanda Metropolitano.
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Such was Partey’s form in the Spanish capital that he finished last season having won possession more times in the middle third than any other player at the club (128), while he also dribbled past an opponent 57 times, at least 20 more than any other Atleti player, highlighting the full range of his footballing repertoire.
Arsenal have certainly been offered glimpses of Partey’s full midfield credentials, but he is yet to recapture the scintillating form that made him one of the continent’s most sought-after enforcers in La Liga.
Saul Niguez, a former midfield teammate of Partey and another of Atleti’s world-class factotums, believes the 27-year-old has just been unlucky with injuries and that when he gets some consistent minutes under his belt, Arsenal will have an elite player on their hands.
“I think he’s been very unlucky because of injuries, especially now that in the UK they are more confined like we were in Spain some months ago,” Saul said at a LiveScore event.
“It’s difficult because he started pre-season with us and then he left without finishing it. He tried to play every game, he got injured, then he tried to come back before the correct time.
“Everything has been a bit unfortunate, but I think next season will be a great season for him.
“I think having a coach like Arteta at Arsenal eased things a lot for him. He knows the language and it is a culture that suits him.
“As a player he’s incredible and if he manages to keep this consistency, he can be one of the best in the world honestly.”
“He has to be more intelligent”
Saul went on to explain just how Partey can truly elevate his game and fulfil the potential of being one of the game’s very best. The 19-capped Spain international believes Partey must learn to be more consistent, understanding how to produce top performances on a weekly basis and not just in one-off contests.
He added: “I have known him since we were 16 or 17 years old and I’ve always felt that he was going to be a very important player, but what he has lacked is the consistency, because he’s capable of doing everything.
“He scores from out of the box, he makes ground, steals, distributes, runs the game himself.
“But if he ever reads this (laughs) I would like to mention again that he should improve his consistency. It’s not enough just doing one good game and then not appearing in three or four.
“He has to be more intelligent in that aspect and know what he has to do those days in which he’s not performing as well.”