Of the many transfer targets for Manchester United, Thomas Partey is arguably the most significant beyond Jadon Sancho.
The Atletico Madrid midfielder has a £43.5 million release clause in his contract, representing a bargain even in this financial climate.
Despite the clause, Atletico will put up a fight. Partey is a big part of their team, and they wouldn’t let him leave without putting a counter offer on the table.
That is why a deal to bring the Ghanaian to Manchester United would be even more impressive.
A sign of desire
‘Transition’ was the buzz word around Manchester United last summer during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first transfer window in charge as permanent manager.
This was partly designed from the club to deflect ambition. United may insist otherwise publicly, but a squad was being put together with a top four place in mind, rather than a title challenge. And it showed.
Change rarely happens overnight, although Bruno Fernandes showed in January that it is possible that just one signing can accelerate the team’s progress substantially.
A decision was made recently to renew Nemanja Matic’s contract. This was just reward for strong recent performances, although the long-term future of the defensive midfield position remains uncertain.
Do United follow the ‘young team in transition’ approach, and look at a young player like Declan Rice, Sandro Tonali, Boubakary Soumare or even Jude Bellingham as a solution for the position and assign them a role of Nemanja Matic’s eventual successor?
All four of those players are aged 21 and under, and in Bellingham’s case, just 16.
Or will United push through a move to sign Thomas Partey, 27, in the belief he can give this team an immediate lift?
A move for Partey won’t mean United are abandoning the strategy of signing young players, it will just mean United feel a top player like Partey, approaching his peak, can give the rest of the squad a big lift.
It will be a sign United believe this squad are closer to challenging for titles than our Premier League points tally this season suggests, fuelled by the form of the team since Fernandes’ arrival.
Signing the Atletico Madrid ace would show United are committed to winning now, and are willing to try and fast track the rebuild.
That’s what fans want to see. Fan patience in a rebuild project will only last so long, and wavered at times this past season.
A move for Partey would show United’s desire to ‘win now’ rather than targeting a league title in three years time.
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