Thomas Partey finding his groove in Diego Simeone's first-team plans
Thomas Partey was one of five changes made by Diego Simeone in his starting 11 for Atlético’s trip to Las Palmas and the Ghana international was not handed an easy assignment.
Asked to fill the role normally occupied by Gabi of controlling the midfield, Thomas passed with flying colours, adding a goal to his recovery of six balls in the centre of the park.
The midfielder also demonstrated that he is physically prepared to play a larger role in Simeone’s side this season.
During pre-season, Atletico fitness coach “Profe” Ortega paid special attention to Thomas and during pre-season he looked more of a physical force than he had in 2016-17.
Against Las Palmas, the Ghanaian covered 11 kilometres, only exceeded by three of his teammates: Koke (11,8 km), Saúl (11,4 km) and Yannick Carrasco (11,2 km).
He was also tidy in his passing, finding a teammate with 37 of 41 attempts at a percentage of 90.24.
Only Saúl and substitute Gabi were more accurate.
Thomas has gradually been gaining more weight in the Atlético squad having come through the ranks at the Madrid-based side and after two successful loan spells at Mallorca and Almería.
The Las Palmas game was his sixth 90 minutes in LaLiga under Simeone. In 2015-16 he played just 435 minutes across 13 appearances with two goals and an assist.
Last season Thomas featured for 627 minutes in 16 games with a goal and two assists.
Simeone has faith in midfielder
During the summer, Thomas made it clear that he wanted more playing time or he would seek another loan move to gain more experience.
With Atlético serving a transfer ban, Simeone closed the door on his departure and has been keen to reassure his midfielder that he is an important squad member.
After his performance in Las Palmas, those opportunities are likely to be more regular this season.