Thomas Partey impressed in Arsenal's win at Old Trafford

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Mikel Arteta has said star midfielder Thomas Partey will bring a “different presence” to the Arsenal midfield when he finally reaches full fitness.

The £45 million summer signing from Atletico Madrid has missed more than a month of action with a thigh problem but is set to make his return against Crystal Palace on Thursday.

Partey has completed a full Premier League match just twice this season due to his various fitness problems, with Arteta saying it is “incredible” how the 27-year-old has been limited to such a small amount of action.

“He has got a different presence, he brings something different to the team,” said Arteta. “It is not just about his talent, it is not just about his physicality, it is who he is as a person.

“He makes players better around him and that is a big, big quality. It is incredible that we are in January and we have only played him twice. We have not really seen the impact we believe he could have on the team.

“Obviously we have missed him. On the other hand we have seen players step in as well, and when that happens it gives us some really positive news, but I think it is going to be a big bonus if we can keep him fit.”

Partey’s injuries, combined with the impact of the lockdown as he adapts to a new country and a new league, have made this a challenging few months for the Ghanaian.

His return to the team should be made easier by Arsenal’s recent upturn in form, though, with this match against Palace coming after four consecutive wins in all competitions.

“When you are injured, you feel the responsibility when the club has made the effort we made to sign him,” said Arteta. “He was so willing for months to be joining us. He really wants to be part of it and knows how much he can help.

“Then he had to deal with the injuries, with the lockdown and moving into a new place and that has been tough for him. That is why sometimes he was rushing and wanted to do everything straight away – because he is so willing to come back, he does not want to be alone at home.

“He is in a really good place, he has settled really well in the dressing room and around the staff. He is a special character and hopefully we can see him on the pitch finally.”

Arteta added that the immediate future of Shkodran Mustafi, who has just six months remaining on his contract, is at Arsenal. Mustafi’s contractual situation has prompted interest from abroad but with William Saliba now on loan and Sokratis set to leave, Arteta said they do not have “that many” centre-backs at the club.