Chelsea opting against a concerted effort to sign Declan Rice from West Ham played a part in Arsenal clinching the signing of Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day. The Gunners sealed the blockbuster arrival of the Ghanaian late on Monday to inject fresh optimism into the club’s Champions League charge.
Partey was a long-standing Arsenal target and was even scouted under Unai Emery in 2018, though the Spanish boss opted to splash his cash on Nicolas Pepe instead.
But the 27-year-old has finally arrived at the north London club, much to the chagrin of Atletico, who are said to be furious at losing Partey so late in the window.
However, Arsenal only made a deadline day move for Partey – whose £45million release clause had long looked too expensive for them – after seeing other deals fall away.
And The Athletic say that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu had actually agreed on trying to sign Chelsea’s Jorginho heading into the final days of the window.
After a move for Lyon’s Houssem Aouar failed, Jorginho – who almost joined Manchester City when Mikel Arteta was Pep Guardiola’s assistant – emerged as the most likely option as a new No 6.
While Partey – who was also loosely linked to Chelsea – was the preferred talent, Jorginho seemed more attainable and Arsenal held hope of signing the Brazil-born Italian international.
Arteta rates the midfielder, 28, highly having championed his signature at City before Chelsea swooped in to prise him from Napoli.
And the north Londoners were waiting to see if Chelsea moved for West Ham defensive midfielder Rice, who Frank Lampard is known to be a huge fan of.
Earlier in the window, Rice was viewed as a target for the centre-back positions but Chelsea instead signed Thiago Silva.
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Yet the £80m-rated 21-year-old, who has nine England caps, remained in Lampard’s thinking and there were murmurs he could make a move late in the window.
That might have left Jorginho’s place in the team in doubt despite the fact he has been a regular feature under Lampard.
But a move for Rice never transpired and The Athletic say Chelsea never made an aggressive pursuit of the player, having spent well over £200m this summer.
The Blues then informed Arsenal that they had no intention of allowing Jorginho to leave as a result.
And so instead, Arsenal moved back to Partey and were able to juggle their finances to be able to get a deal done.
It has been suggested due to VAT that the Gunners actually had to pay £51m to sign Partey, who it is claimed will earn £250,000 a week across four years at the Emirates.
That means across the court of his contract that Partey could set Arsenal back over £100m, but Arteta is confident he has landed an elite-level midfield talent.
The Spanish tactician said: “We have been watching Thomas for a while, so we’re now delighted to add such a high quality player to our squad.
“He is a dynamic midfielder with great energy. He brings a lot of experience from a top club that has competed at the highest level in La Liga and the Champions League for several years.
“We’re very impressed with his attitude and his approach to the game. He’s an intelligent footballer and we’re looking forward to him integrating into our system and contributing to the progress we’re building at the moment at the club.”
Chelsea’s long-term interest in Rice, meanwhile, means they are likely to make a fresh attempt to sign him in the future.
His contract at the London Stadium, which he signed in December 2018, keeps him with the Hammers until the summer of 2024 and so it will take a huge bid to sign him.
Rice was of course on the books of Chelsea from the ages of seven to 14 before joining West Ham in 2014 after being released by the Blues.
He has since racked up 102 Premier League appearances with the east London outfit and has captained them on multiple occasions this term.
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