Arsenal have been heavily credited with interest in Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid throughout the summer, and even before. The Spanish club reportedly rejected two offers from the Gunners early on, both consisting of a player+cash arrangement.
Atletico have so far been adamant that Partey would not be leaving unless a potential suitor triggers his release clause set at €50 million (£45m). They’ve been also hoping they would be able to convince the midfielder to sign a new contract, which would see that clause rise significantly, but they haven’t had any success in that area so far. Partey apparently remains open to other options and does not wish to recommit to the Rojiblancos at this point.
Arsenal don’t seem able (or willing) to pay €50m to secure his services and the deal had started looking beyond realistic hope of getting done, but it appears there has been some development recently. According to Spanish outlet Marca, Atletico are preparing an offensive to land Marc Roca of Espanyol, who is seen as a suitable replacement for Thomas. What’s more, they would apparently have to raise some funds – preferably by selling Thomas – to be able to afford Roca.
This need, if genuine, would arguably put the club in a much weaker position in terms of negotiating a sale, and they could be willing to lower their demands. There could be a way in for Arsenal yet, with the player himself appearing interested in the prospect of moving to the Premier League.
Again, providing there is actually some truth in what Marca are saying (and there usually is when they’re talking about potential deals between Spanish clubs), it remains unclear what pushed Atletico to turn to Roca. However, it stands to reason to assume that it would have been Partey’s obstinate refusal to pen a new deal and desire for a change of scenery.