Mikel Arteta is cautiously optimistic that headline summer signing Thomas Partey will be in contention to make his comeback from injury against Newcastle next weekend.
The Ghana international joined the Gunners on the final day of the summer transfer window after Arsenal decided to activate the £45million release clause in his Atletico Madrid contract.
Partey has shown flashes of the quality that persuaded Arteta to sanction the deal, particularly during a man of the match display during the win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, but he has been restricted to just five Premier League appearances so far.
The 27-year-old lasted just 45 minutes on his last comeback appearance against Tottenham at the start of December but returned to full training earlier this week.
Arteta is hopeful Partey will be able to feature when Arsenal begin the defence of the FA Cup and believes the player is capable of ‘transforming’ his side once he is fully up to speed.
‘He hasn’t trained fully with us, but he has done most parts of training the last few days,’ Arteta said following Saturday’s crushing 4-0 win over West Brom.
‘He is feeling good and we will assess him. He needs another two or three good sessions to see if he is 100% available to play. If that is the case, great news for us.
‘Absolutely (he will be like a new signing), we are in January and I think he has played two and a half games. That’s all and he was out main signing.
‘He brings something different. He’s a player with an enormous talent but as well someone who can transform the team.’
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