Former Arsenal scout, who identified gems from Lauren to Partey, talks Wenger, signing Fàbregas and why a title challenge may be on

Not long after 10.30pm on deadline day, a car pulled up outside the headquarters of La Liga and two men got out. They hurried into the building, signed some papers, and left. At 23.28 the league officially informed Atlético Madrid that Arsenal had paid the €50m buyout clause for Thomas Partey and Atlético, in turn, announced his departure at 23.55, five minutes before the window closed. The Ghanaian was a Gunner. It had all happened fast.

Only, it hadn’t. This was just the final stage in a six-year process. Francis Cagigao, then Arsenal’s head of recruitment, had first watched a 21-year-old Partey on loan at Almería. On Saturday Partey is in line to make his Arsenal debut; Cagigao will have to watch on TV from Galicia, northern Spain, having departed the club in September after 24 years’ service, a free agent awaiting a new project.

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