MIKEL ARTETA is looking to make Atletico Madrid defensive midfielder Thomas Partey his first big-money signing as Arsenal manager, according to reports.
The Ghana international has a £42million release clause in his contract with his current deal expiring in 2023.
Arteta sees Partey as the ideal man to protect his back four as he plots to add some steel to his squad.
The 26-year-old was sensational in the 1-0 Champions League win over Liverpool, dictating the play and quelling any attacks from the Red’s phenomenal front three.
According to Spanish publication Libertad Digitial, Arsenal are among a number of clubs ready to take a punt and convince him that his future lies elsewhere.
The reports add that an unnamed team have already made contact with the player’s agent over a potential summer deal.
Atletico are keen to hold talks with Partey to agree new terms that would hike up his release clause.
He has been a vital part of Diego Simeone’s plans this season making 23 league appearances and seven in the Champions League.
Partey has also contributed to their incredible defensive record that has seen them concede just 18 goals throughout the league campaign.
But a lack of Champions League football may hamper Arsenal’s chances of signing the star should he decide his future belongs elsewhere.
Arteta is also facing a fight to keep star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the club.
The Gabon star has been linked with Barcelona, which would leave Arteta with even more work to do in the transfer window.