Arsenal’s hopes of signing Thomas Partey this summer have seemingly been extinguished with the north London club having decided they will not exercise the player’s release clause after having a bid rejected by Atletico Madrid.
Partey is Mikel Arteta’s top midfield target as the Spanish coach looks to strengthen his squad for a push for Champions League qualification next season.
The Gunners finished eighth in the Premier League this term, 10 points off the top four and a huge 43 points off of champions Liverpool.
But they could still end their season with an FA Cup triumph, taking on Chelsea at Wembley this Saturday (5.30pm kick-off).
Arteta is already beginning to think about how he can bolster his team for a stronger top-four push in 2020-21 however and he sees Partey as being a player who can give Arsenal both a steelier and more skilful midfield.
The 27-year-old has been a crucial part of Diego Simeone’s Atleti team in recent seasons and has made 46 appearances this season, scoring four goals and helping Los Rojiblancos finish third in La Liga and reach the Champions League quarter-finals, in which they face RB Leipzig.
According to Get French Football News, Arsenal have had a bid in the region of £23million (€25m) – which also included exiled midfielder Matteo Guendouzi in part-exchange – rejected by the Spanish side.
They also cite transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, who says that Atletico have rejected Arsenal’s bid because they want Partey’s £45m release clause paid in full.
But the Premier League outfit have responded by saying that they will not pay the clause, with the Gunners’ finances known to be strained going into the upcoming transfer window.
Atletico seemingly have no interest in Guendouzi, who has been frozen out by Arteta following his behaviour in a league defeat to Brighton last month.
The 21-year-old midfielder’s potential remains huge, however, and Arsenal are hoping to cash in on his talents following his fall-out with the manager.
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Barcelona have been linked with a surprise swoop for Guendouzi and the former Lorient ace would prevent to move to Catalonia.
GFFN say no negotiations have been held between Barca and Arsenal despite suggestions Guendouzi could head to the Nou Camp with Philippe Coutinho coming the other way.
But Guendouzi’s representatives have been in contact with the La Liga heavyweights as they hope to engineer a potential move, with the player sharing the same agent as Barca attacker Ousmane Dembele.
Guendouzi is not completely opposed to moving to the Wanda Metropolitano instead but Barca is his preferred destination.
However, Arsenal are unlikely to strike a deal which involves Guendouzi, with Atletico simply demanding Partey’s release clause is paid in full.
It appears the Londoners will instead have to look at alternative targets, with Espanyol’s Marco Roca and Danilo Pereira of Porto previously linked as back-up options.
Arteta said to Sky Sports last week of potential incoming transfers: “For me, it’s the number one question when we bring someone to the club.
“What is he like? How is he going to react in difficult moments? Is he a leader? Is he someone who is going to push his team-mates? Is he hungry for himself, or does he have collective ambitions? Is he someone who can be stable and consistent in the long-term?
“For me, those are always the first questions when we try to sign a player.
“I am encouraged that we [Arteta and the board] are on the same page, and that we are going to try to do our best to evolve the team.
“First of all the players we already have here, if there is anything extra to help them more and give them a better environment, and then, if we go into the market and we have to do things, to decide which ones to do and how quickly we can do them.
“We are completely ready for that, and I also have a really good understanding with [technical director] Edu. We have been working together very closely to put together a plan that we are convinced can be successful.
“But also, it’s important to have all the information you need from the team that you have, from the players, from everything. That took some time as well.”
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