THOMAS PARTEY, EL NUEVO MEDIOCENTRO DE SIMEONE

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En los últimos años, Atlético Madrid recuperó su lugar en la elite, pero siempre tuvo problemas en la zona medular. Simeone pulió un nuevo mediocentro: Thomas Partey.

Ghanés de 24 años, Thoams Partey llegó al Filial en 2012 y tras etapas como cedido en Mallorca y Almería, debutó durante la temporada 2015/16 con el primer equipo del Atlético Madrid, bajo las órdenes de Diego Simeone. No obstante, su juego era diferente al de ahora. Antes, el mediocampista estaba más asociado a tareas de ataque y juego por las bandas.

El problema del Atlético Madrid en la zona central del campo data desde hace años. Más precisamente, la última temporada de Tiago Mendes al máximo nivel fue también la última en que esa zona del campo fue confiable y concordante con lo que el equipo buscaba. A partir de allí, ganó más relevancia la figura de Gabi Fernández, pero el rol defensivo que éste ocupó fue más impuesto por las necesidades que por sus propias condiciones.

Augusto Fernández llegó desde el Celta para ocupar ese rol de volante central listo para presionar, relevar y servir como un tapón para los ataques rivales, pero las lesiones le han dificultado conseguir regularidad y buen nivel. Matías Kranevitter tampoco tuvo el nivel esperado. Por ese puesto, además, pasaron José María Giménez -defensor central- y dos canteranos como Saúl y Koke, que han aportado su grano de arena pero siempre estuvieron más cómodos en otros puestos de la cancha. El primero, zurdo, de gran potencia física y mucha habilidad, ha rendido mejor en la banda derecha del 4-4-2 tradicional, aunque por su corta edad y condiciones, aún está a tiempo de convertirse en un volante central de garantías. Por su parte, Koke es un organizador en banda, que agradece de jugar en el sector izquierdo para tener la cancha de frente.

Ante estas situaciones, y sumado a la sanción para incorporar refuerzos -cumplida en este 2018- Simeone se ha visto obligado a buscar variantes. El Cholo ha pulido a Thomas como un buen volante central que comienza a dar muy buenas sensaciones en su nuevo rol. Antes, el nacido en Ghana se caracterizaba por su juego entre líneas, partir desde la banda, conducir con precisión y servir al bloque defensivo con su gran condición física. Pero en el nuevo Atlético Madrid, se ha potenciado calidad en el pase. Thomas ya no conduce ni rompe líneas; en el plantel hay otros jugadores que están capacitados para eso, como Antoine Griezmann, Ángel Correa, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Vittolo, Saúl y demás. Lo que falta es alguien que coloque el pase filtrado. Por eso Thomas ya no conduce, sino es quien intenta encontrar a sus compañeros en las zonas que antes pisaba él mismo. La técnica le ayuda: capacidad para cubrir la pelota, batir rivales y analizar el panorama previo a la elección; además del físico ya mencionado.

Partey está siendo una gran noticia para Simeone. En lo que va de la temporada 2017/18 ya ha jugado más partidos de lo que solía completar en anteriores. Aún así, la transformación a mediocentro ideal del Atlético Madrid no está del todo completa, y será una incógnita saber si algún día lo será. Porque más allá de que el ghanés ayude a la posesión de su equipo, en defensa no es una pieza que aporte mucha seguridad. Se puede decir que Thomas defiende mejor cuando su equipo ataca que cuando es atacado. Si el Atlético tiene la pelota, él está bien posicionado para recuperar rápido o corregir desajustes a base de capacidad física. Pero cuando la posesión es del rival y el Atlético se ve obligado a replegar, no es un jugador que hasta el momento haya demostrado la concentración y el quite necesario en los últimos metros. Para peor, la defensa posicional del conjunto colchonero ya no es lo confiable que era antes, cuando convertirle era un dolor de cabeza hasta para las grandes potencias, por lo que cualquier mínimo paso en falso, no pasa desapercibido.

Aún así, de momento Thomas es la mejor opción que tiene Simeone para ocupar el puesto de mediocentro, ayudado también por las falencias ya mencionadas en Gabi, Saúl y Koke, que no pasan por un buen momento. Más allá del déficit defensivo, su calidad en el pase vertical entre líneas supera a la de sus compañeros. Y además, si el de Ghana ha reconvertido su juego en este tiempo, bien puede continuar puliendo aspectos para convertirse en el mediocentro que Simeone aún lucha por encontrar.

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1994. Si no rueda una pelota me siento incompleto. Cuando sea grande diré que vi jugar a Messi. Disfruto de leer y escribir.

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