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He’s more than just defensive midfielder – Alan Smith joins ex-football stars in hailing Thomas Partey

After Martin Keown, Owen Hargreaves and ace broadcaster Piers Morgan paid their tributes, Alan Smith waxed lyrical over Thomas Partey following his masterclass performance for Arsenal in the Europa League in midweek.

Partey was in his usual ball-playing mood during the Gunners 2-1 victory against Rapid Vienna in the opening fixture of the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League on Wednesday.

The Ghana international made an explosive start in central midfield, winning balls for his new side while leaving opponents for dead with the use of his power, pace and nimble footwork.

Former players such as Martin Keown and Owen Hargreaves were joined by renowned broadcaster Piers Morgan in singing the praises of the 27-year-old enforcer after his swashbuckling display on his first start for the Emirates Stadium outfit.

Smith wrote for the London Evening Standard: “He hardly put a foot wrong in a performance that showcased an impressive passing range that should encourage anyone in front to keep making runs.

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“Holding midfielder? No, Partey is much more than that. He proved that emphatically with some incisive play that suggested a useful understanding could quickly develop with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

“Without wishing to get carried away, the way he bossed the game, Partey brought back memories of Patrick Vieira. For the first time since the majestic Frenchman’s time, the Gunners may now boast a dominant force in the middle of the park who can change a game as well as mix it physically.”

Partey joined Arsenal on a five-year deal for a reported fee €50 million from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day.

He made his Gunners debut recently in the Premier League against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, joining the action as a second half substitute.