Part god, part octopus, Thomas Partey says he is here to help Arsenal to achieve their “new objective”. The £45m midfielder from Ghana has a number of tattoos on his arm but two seem to have particular significance. One is the image of his own face.
“Yes,” he explains. “I believe that everyone on earth is a god. I think if I am a god to myself, it is important that I choose all my own decisions and make everything work for me on my way.”
The other, rather incongruously, is the depiction of an octopus. Really?
“I always say, if I would be an animal, I would be an octopus,” Partey said. “I remember when I was in Almeria they called me ‘the octopus’ because I stole a lot of balls.
“Yeah, with my long legs, tackling people.”
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Many say he is the first proper, dominant midfielder Arsenal have had at the club since he departure of Patrick Vieira in 2005.
The year before they were Invincible, but following his departure the success-free years stretched out like one of his own telescopic tackles.
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But Partey’s arrival is the latest move designed to turn back the clock.
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“Yes,” he said. “This is our new objective. That’s the objective of the club, of me myself and I think that we have to get back to where we belong.
“By keeping players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, it helps me understand that the club wants to achieve greater things and for me it is great to play along great players like him.
“I watched their last game and they were so good. Not only the midfield but the whole team, you can see that they all want to fight and they all want to achieve things.”
Ultimately, that is a path his own football-coaching father put him on when he was still growing up in the dusty streets of Ghana.
“It was a moment that my father wanted me to be a professional, because when we were young we watched a lot of games in the Premier League and La Liga,” he said.
“For him, it is a great feeling for me to achieve my dream because I have always wanted to be a footballer.
“He would go out with us in the early mornings to run to the mountains. We would be jumping, heading leaves and all those things. He was my first coach.
“It was always about football, he was advising us about that and also to go to school.
“Running through the mountains, that was when he was playing.”
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