The Ghanaian, 26, is enjoying his best season in LaLiga and with his release clause set at just €50million (£43.5m), it is no surprise he is on the Gunners’ radar.
Amid the current break in action due to coronavirus, interest from Arsenal has emerged, with reports that the north London outfit are ready to exercise that clause in a big summer transfer.
Atletico, meanwhile, are working on a new deal to tie down the player until 2026 (his current contract runs until 2023) and want to increase his clause to a more prohibitive €100m (£87m).
So what is all the fuss about? Thomas, as he is known in Spain, has taken time to reach his full potential but has become indispensable at the heart of Atletico’s midfield under Diego Simeone in the past couple of years.
After signing terms with Atletico as an 18-year-old in 2011, the Ghanaian went out on loan to Mallorca and Almeria before making his debut with the Rojiblancos in 2015.
Initially on the fringes, he has grown in importance over the past couple of years and especially since the sale of Rodri to Manchester City last summer.
A defensive midfielder in the mould of Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, Thomas is not only strong and difficult to shake off in possession, but excellent with the ball at his feet and adept at carrying it forward.
Positionally, he has improved immensely under Simeone and has a knack of being in the right place at the right time to win the ball back with key interceptions and move the team up the pitch with his dribbling ability.
At €50m, he is a bargain and has his best years ahead of him, which is why Atletico have begun talks to extend his contract.
The Rojiblancos have cut player wages by 70 per cent amid the Covid-19 crisis and CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin spoke of the need to ‘safeguard the future of the club’.
As things stand, selling Thomas is not in their plans, but failure to secure Champions League football for next season (Atleti are currently sixth, although just a point off fourth place) could open a window of opportunity.
In the end, it is the player who will decide and he seems happy where he is right now.
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