Arsenal ace Granit Xhaka gives Thomas Partey verdict ahead of Gunners debut vs Man City

Granit Xhaka insists he’s delighted to have Thomas Partey at Arsenal and hopes that he can play alongside the Ghanaian regularly in midfield so the pair can learn from each other. Partey is in line to make his Arsenal debut today against Manchester City in a testing Premier League contest at the Etihad (5.30pm kick-off) although he starts on the bench.

The 27-year-old joined the Gunners on deadline day earlier this month after Arsenal activated the holding midfielder’s £45million release clause to take him from Atletico Madrid.

But Xhaka insists he’s pleased to have Partey at the Emirates and hopes he can help elevate Mikel Arteta’s team as they seek a top-four finish this term.

The Swiss is confident that Arteta can lead the north London outfit back to the Champions League.

“I know Thomas, we played against Atletico two years ago in the Europa League semi-final when we lost against them,” Xhaka told Sky Sports ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Manchester.

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“He’s a great player, if not then Arsenal don’t buy him, it’s so simple. He has the quality to bring us one step forward.

“He is very, very good in the duels, his passing is very good. He played in Atetico Madrid a different type of football so he can help the team.

“I am more than happy we have a player like him and I am more than happy if we can play with each other and meet each other and start to learn each other a lot of things.”

Xhaka has turned round his Arsenal career under Arteta with it thought a year ago that he was headed for the exit door.

The Spanish coach has repeatedly hailed Xhaka’s attitude behind the scenes after he was booed off by his own fans against Crystal Palace and stripped of the club’s captaincy for his x-rated reaction.

And the midfielder added: “He’s changed a lot of things, everyone can see that. When he speaks, you understand exactly what he wants.

“He gives you the details so that when you go on the pitch you know exactly what you have to do. I think this is key for us.

“The feeling before was that we’re not a team like we are now. This is so simple.

“If you’re not a team, you don’t fight for each other and you don’t respect each other, how you have to do it, you come with nothing.

“It was like this last year but Mikel changed a lot of good things. It’s a big story [for me]. From October to January, I was gone, I was alone. I didn’t know what to do.

“With my family behind me I knew I’d come back stronger than before, we have that mentality in my family, we are not a family to run away.

“It’s easier to run away but it’s very difficult to stay in front of all and to say ‘okay’, normally I was gone, but I’m still here, thanks to Mikel but as well my side I never give up because I knew I could do it and show the fans I’m the right person to play for this club.

“First of all he wanted to know the situation, of course because he was too far away to what happened. Second was how he explained to me how important I am for him, for the team.

“Until this day the words he gave me and said to me was exactly what I wanted to hear.

“For me it was very important to give him everything back and show on the pitch I will give everything for the club and the fans. I’m more than happy.

“I’m sure we’re going to be back in the Champions League next season.”

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