Thomas Partey says Michael Essien was one of his idols while growing up

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey has said that he was fond of watching the Premier League during his younger days and Michael Essien was one of the players he had followed closely. The Ghana international has been slowly building a reputation for himself at Atletico but this has recently spread the speculation with Manchester City linked with his services.

Speaking to Edmundo, the Ghanaian skipper said that he liked watching Premier League matches during his formative years and Essien, Steven Gerrard and Yaya Toure were among the main figures of attraction during that time, he said: “As a child, I watched many Premier matches. I saw a lot of Gerrard, then Yaya Touré or Essien. Any African footballer in my position wants to be like them.”

Partey had the option to join one of Manchester City and Manchester United before his Atletico debut but he turned down their advances. The move has certainly paid dividends with him becoming more important for the Spanish giants by the season and he has already amassed 30 appearances for Diego Simeone’s team during the current campaign.

Meanwhile, Atletico have experienced a stop-start season in the Spanish La Liga with as many as eight draws and this sees them seven points off Barcelona at the top of the standings. Nonetheless, their campaign has been a decent success and they could make progress into the Champions League quarter-finals next month.

Atletico managed to grab a rather comfortable 2-0 win over Juventus during the home leg of the Champions League round of 16 and they are now favourites to reach the last eight, barring them squandering the healthy advantage during the reverse fixture in Turin. Partey played through an hour during the first leg against the Bianconeri and he could be needed once more at the Allianz Stadium.