Arsenal transfer chiefs have stepped up their pursuit of Thomas Partey.
His sale would come as a huge blow to Diego Simeone and his side’s chances of success next season, while handing Arsenal a boost in their hopes of a return to Champions League football.
The 27-year-old has been a long-term target for the north London outfit, and could directly replace the out-of-favour Matteo Guendouzi.
The Athletic have reported that Arsenal are stepping up their interest in the Ghana international, and are hoping to secure a deal for even less than his £45m buy-out clause.
That will come as good news to fans who have all but given up on Champions League football for next season, with Partey’s comments about playing in England hinting at a move in the past.
"At the moment, I am happy at my club," Partey told ESPN last summer when asked about his future.
"But in football, you never know when and where you'll be in the next day or year.
“The Premier League is a good league, it’s very competitive and has some of the best players in the world.”
Partey’s Atletico team-mate and England international Kieran Trippier has stated this week that he would be well suited to the Premier League, which might worry his former club Tottenham.
In an interview with The Beautiful Game Podcast, he said: “I’d seen him play for Atletico but I didn’t realise how good he is. It’s unbelievable, his physicality, how he breaks up play. Technically, he’s got everything.”
Before adding: “Going to the Premier League… who knows? Obviously I want him to stay here because he’s a valuable member to our team.
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“But I feel like he speaks perfect English. I don’t think he’d have a problem with the Premier League.”
When asked is Partey had ever asked him about the Premier League, the full-back added: “Not really. Obviously everybody watches the Premier League, even out here you watch games. It gives me a good opportunity to watch nearly all the games out here now.
“But no, they just ask me what it’s like, the style of play, a few players have. It doesn’t mean that they’re leaving by the way!
“They ask about certain players who play in the league, what it’s like and I just say… the Premier League is the Premier League. It is one of the best leagues in the world. But Thomas… he’ll fit in perfectly in the Premier League.”