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Arsenal eye Partey replacement who’s one of ‘the best CMs in the world’

Written by on May 9, 2024

It’s crunch time in the Premier League, and for the first time in a very long time, Arsenal are potentially just two games away from being crowned champions.

By this time last year, Mikel Arteta’s side had totally fallen away from Manchester City, but with that experience to fuel them, his young team looks ready to take this to the wire.

Alongside Edu Gaspar, the Spaniard has built an imposing team full of incredibly talented youngsters who could continue to challenge for major honours for years to come.

However, one key player, Thomas Partey, might need to be replaced and upgraded due to his age and injury record, and based on recent reports, it may well happen this summer.

Arsenal transfer news

According to a recent edition of the Spanish newspaper Sport, Arsenal have maintained their interest in Real Sociedad’s star midfielder, Martin Zubimendi.


Martin-Zubimendi-Real-Sociedad

The report names Bayern Munich and Barcelona as the Gunners’ two biggest competitors in the market. However, it also claims the Catalan club can’t afford to match the player’s €60m – £52m – release clause, while a report from Sky Sports Germany in March revealed that Munich considers the clause too dear.

However, their competitors’ inability or unwillingness to activate Zubimendi’s release clause isn’t Arsenal’s only advantage in this transfer saga. Sport also revealed that the midfielder is ‘seduced by the Premier League’, meaning the North Londoners really are holding all the cards at present.


Martin-Zubimendi-Oyarzabal

That said, £52m would still represent a significant investment, but given how unreliable Partey’s fitness is and the age of Jorginho, it might be an investment they have to make.

How Zubimendi compares to Partey

So, if Arteta is going to spend a considerable portion of his summer budget on Zubimendi as a long-term replacement and upgrade on Partey, how do the pair compare?


Martin Zubimendi for Real Soceidad

Well, given that they both predominantly play as holding midfielders, the best way to compare them is through their underlying numbers, and when doing that, the young Spaniard holds his own and even outperforms the Arsenal man in a lot of metrics, suggesting that with time and coaching, he could surpass the Ghanaian overall.

For example, while the 30-year-old produces far more progressive passes than his potential replacement, he isn’t that far ahead when it comes to progressive carries, passing accuracy, tackles, or ball recoveries per 90.

Zubimendi vs Partey

Stats per 90

Zubimendi

Partey

Non-Penalty Expected Goals + Assists

0.14

0.09

Non-Penalty Goals

0.14

0.00

Assists

0.03

0.00

Progressive Passes

5.15

8.00

Progressive Carries

1.15

1.86

Shots on Target

0.37

0.29

Goals per Shot on Target

0.36

0.00

Passing Accuracy

85.7%

88.9%

Tackles

1.66

1.71

Blocks

1.12

0.86

Clearances

1.83

0.86

Miscontrols

0.88

1.00

Dispossessed

0.54

1.14

Ball Recoveries

5.73

6.86

Aerial Duels Won

1.49

1.00

All Stats via FBref for the 23/24 League Season

In contrast, the “heart of La Real’s midfield”, as described by talent scout Jacek Kulig, produces a higher non-penalty expected goal and assists figure, takes more shots on target, makes more blocks and clearances, wins more aerial duels and miscontrols the ball less often, all per 90.

There is also a lot of hope and excitement around the 25-year-old in his homeland, with national team manager Luis de la Fuente describing him as one of the “best centre-midfielders in the world” in an interview with one Spanish publication.

Lastly, while we have already mentioned problems around Partey’s availability, it is worth delving into, as in the last four seasons, he has missed 72 games for club and country through injury, whereas the “incredible” San Sebastián-born ace, as described by U23 scout Antonio Mango, has missed just six games in the same period.

Even if Zubiemendi could only ever be 75% as good as Partey, he would be a far more useful player for Arteta, as he would actually be available to play practically every game. So, Arsenal must take this opportunity to sign the Spaniard as the perfect replacement.

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