Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal have signed Thomas Partey at the perfect stage of his career – but has warned he may not be ready to make his debut at Manchester City on Saturday.
The Gunners travel to the Etihad Stadium looking to continue a good start to the Premier League season which has seen them win three of their opening four matches. They added to their squad as Partey arrived on transfer deadline day after Arsenal triggered his release clause at Atletico Madrid.
The 27-year-old has been a long-term target for the club and was pursued for much of the summer before eventually signing in the closing stages of the window.
Arteta – who has largely put his faith in young players to complement the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka and David Luiz – now has a player who is the finished article and can drop straight into his midfield.
“We need a balance between a lot of young players that we have in some breakthrough or development phases and others that are at the peak or twilight of their careers,” he said.
“We believe that he (Partey) is the right recruit for us in terms of age, in terms of his history and career, where he has been educated, the amount of experience he has and the quality that he has to adapt to our game model and as well to this very competitive league.
“I have seen the buzz around the place, the fans are really happy, I have seen some really positive reactions after we bought him, the same with the team, the squad and the staff.
“I think he is a player we had the radar on for a long time and we have managed to bring him in and I think he will be a really important addition to the team.”
While many would expect Partey to go straight into the side after his move, with the release clause costing Arsenal a reported £45million, both player and manager have spoken cautiously about his chances of featuring at City.
Speaking earlier in the week, Partey – who has trained just twice with his new team-mates after returning from international duty with Ghana – said: “It is the decision of Mikel. I just arrived. For me, I’m prepared but I need to get used to the style of play before I can play.”
Arteta was also asked about whether Partey could have an instant impact.
“Probably there is a lot of expectation,” he added.
“But we have to always give some time to players to adapt. The Spanish league and the Premier League are completely different, the style of play of Atleti and ours – there are some big differences there as well.
“What is unquestionable is the quality of the player and the level he has been playing in the last five or six years.
“That obviously will be a big help and if he has the support of the coaching staff, players and fans that I can see, then obviously the adaptation will be quick.”