Arsenal can sign Mikel Arteta dream tactical transfer as perfect Thomas Partey replacement clear

By Staff

It’s not often that readymade players appear so actively on the transfer market. It’s even rarer that those that are available seem to suit a club perfectly.

In Joshua Kimmich Arsenal certainly have that. Heading into the last year (and a bit) of his contract at Bayern Munich – the club he has been at for nearly a decade, winning 14 major competitions plus six German Super Cups for good measure – and his future is as uncertain as ever.

The 29-year-old has forever been linked with a move away from Bavaria, especially in recent times. Now, with Thomas Tuchel failing to get the most out of the versatile talent, his stay may well be coming to an end.

Sky Germany report that the player is open to leaving Bayern come the summer – when he would have just 12 months left on his deal – and that those above him in the club would be prepared to sanction an exit as well. No new contract talks are being held and the prospect of a fresh start looks possible.

Kimmich has still played plenty of football this season but is on course to record the fewest Bundesliga minutes in a single campaign since 2021. He has missed four matches of 26 so far through injury or illness, another to a suspension. He has often played at the heart of midfield but lost the captaincy early on.

Tuchel is just the next manager in line to have not managed to find a way for him and Leon Goretzka to quite click. Arsenal will be all too aware of this as they prepare to take on Bayern next month in the Champions League. A brief patch of uncharacteristic form for a winning machine aside, Mikel Arteta will know just how dangerous Bayern can be across the field.

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Don’t let the noise of turmoil and chaos blind the facts that Bayern are still a mightily tough team and have now score 17 times in their last four league games. The 2024 ‘wobble’ – four defeats in 13 games with eight wins – aside, this is still a strong opponent with much more experience of success at the top table of European football.

Kimmich remains central to plans even if he hasn’t taken his standing to Phillip Lahm levels of dominance across two positions. Arsenal will know this.

They themselves have had a blip this campaign – although everything since the winter break suggests that the players and coach have forgotten that – and have been forced to ask questions of tactical setup, squad makeup, and the rest. That a player so key to their rise last term has been nearly totally exiled from these conversations is a credit.

In Thomas Partey Arsenal possess one of the leading midfielders in world football, when he’s available. The chatter around his fitness is not new, but the possibility of actually replacing him is more in focus now than ever.

He has played less than 45 minutes since his return to the side from a long-term injury that has blighted his season and also seen him return with enormous questions hanging over his head. Where do Arsenal go from here?

Partey is 30, has just over 12 months left contracted to the club, and has missed periods of the past three years through injury on a more regular basis than ever. Knocks and setbacks have been consistent throughout his career, and in a highly-functioning side that bases itself off energy, intensity, and reliability, Partey will be judged on those metrics just as much as what he does on and off the ball.

How then, can these two sides find an answer that suits them both? The answer is pretty simple, especially for Arsenal. They have already been made away of possible intentions from Saudi Arabia to sign Partey and given the league is expected to go hard again in the summer, there is maybe no better time to sell.

Not only is his stock going to struggle to rise any higher, but the contract negotiations will not be easy. Perhaps more pressingly, there is a standout replacement available.

Kimmich is marginally younger than Partey but has only missed one extended period due to injury since his arrival at the Allianz Arena. He plays in a highly physical league dominated by transitions and often chaos, and fits into the overall tactical shape of Arteta.

There are questions over his adaptability and possible cost, especially with such clear implications for breaching financial rules, but in terms of a one-in-one-out transfer, this is about as clear as they come. Arteta may have moved away from asking his full-backs to invert as often as they did last year – owing to Oleksandr Zinchenko’s form dropping off plus injuries elsewhere, but Kimmich is versatile.

He would be a foil for Declan Rice in midfield, capable of playing deeper as well as pushing on in possession. Then he can also play the right-back-cum-midfield hybrid needed too. That is what established him as a possible heir to the Lahm throne in the first place, after all.

The nagging feeling here is that Partey is still a little unknown. The last time he played like a true first-team player he was out of position at right-back towards the end of last season, but before that he was arguably a top-three candidate in the world for his role.

To abandon that undoubted quality one year on is a dangerous game, especially when there is no certainty that Kimmich is immediately an improvement. Making big calls, and often cutthroat ones, is what separates clubs at the top level though, and Arsenal will not want to be caught with both Partey and Jorginho running down their deals throughout next season.

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