Updates (12:30 a.m. CET): Atlético and Arsenal have announced the transfer. The former also formalized Torreira’s arrival on an initial loan, which LaLiga had published on its website before the window closed.
The Premier League side had ratcheted up discussions with Atlético over Thomas’ status in recent months, but Atleti’s stance did not wither — Arsenal would have to trigger the 27-year-old’s €50 million release clause to acquire him. There had been no indications Arsenal were prepared to do so, even during recent negotiations between the two clubs for midfielder Lucas Torreira (who has already passed his medical in Madrid).
However, Arsenal moved quickly and efficiently Monday morning to resume contacts with Thomas’ representatives and finalize a contract agreement that had been in place unofficially for some time. Cadena COPE’s Antonio Ruiz and Goal’s Charles Watts were among the first to break the news, while transfer gurus David Ornstein and Fabrizio Romano followed up later in the day.
Thomas’ exit at any point in the transfer window was unexpected, let alone on deadline day. Atlético last renewed the academy graduate’s contract in March 2018 — and since then, his considerable development saw him become a key player and Diego Simeone’s most complete midfielder. He rejected a pre-pandemic renewal offer that would have seen his release clause doubled and his wages raised significantly — though not close to the team’s highest earners. After those talks fizzled out, Atlético moved to complete other business and anticipated sitting down with Thomas at another date to hash out the terms of a new contract.
Instead, the Ghana international is off to London to join Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal project — which is still in its nascent stages, but will see him placed at its core and paid a salary he deserves. Tying down Thomas with a new deal representative of his critical role in the team never was deemed a priority in Atlético’s offices, and he will leave the rojiblancos for greener pastures as a result.
Though the transfer window will shut Monday night, Atlético will have until Nov. 5 to sign a replacement for Thomas within Spain. LaLiga allows a club 30 days to replace an outgoing player who departed via a release clause in his contract.