Sunday Oct 06, 2019. 09:00
Former Atletico Madrid youth coach Alfredo Santaelena has labelled Thomas Partey a “boss” and says he is not surprised by the Ghanaian’s performances.
The Black Stars midfielder has enjoyed a fine campaign with Atletico so far in 2019/20, as was particularly excellent last week: he picked up a man of the match award for his efforts in the goalless derby against Real Madrid in La Liga, and also scored the second of the Rojiblancos’ goals in a 2-0 win away to Lokomotiv Moscow in the UEFA Champions League.
Santaelena coached Partey during the player’s time in the Atletico youth system and explained that the Ghanaian is now fulfilling his potential.
“You could see how good he would become ever since he arrived at the academy,” Santaelena told Marca. “Right now, he’s the boss of the team, the Gabi [Fernandez] that played in front of the back four for all those years.
“Cholo went for him quickly because when you see a boy with this quality, who is a wonder physically and who improves tactically and grows, well he was always going to end up among the elite.
“Thomas was very intelligent, he learned quickly, and he was one of the most important players in the academy at the time.
“He had very good technical and physical qualities. He improved a lot on the tactical side [of the game] because that was where he needed to improve the most. But he was impressive.
“And you could also see the mind that he had: with his feet on the ground and things very clearly set out. He had everything [he needed] in order to reach the elite.”
The former youth coach added, “Right now, he’s the talisman in the [Atletico] team. He’s improved so much. Physically he’s a wonder, he fills space very well, he’s much more organised tactically, he’s always well-positioned and he’s good on the ball.
“He does a great job and makes Atletico tick. With Koke and Saul [Niguez] alongside him in the centre of midfield, he has a lot of support.”