Anderlecht sporting director Peter Verbeke spoke to Sky Sports today and he is certain that Albert Sambi Lokonga will become a star at Arsenal.
The Gunners completed the signing of the Belgian midfielder yesterday on a long-term contract. He cost Arsenal £18 million (Goal) and is expected to be an understudy to Thomas Partey and whoever else we bring in to partner the Ghanaian in central midfield.
Lokonga is fairly unknown to most Arsenal fans but he was a fan favourite at Anderlecht. He has been excellent for them over the last two years, and the Belgian side’s sporting director is convinced that the 21-year-old will be a top player for the Gunners in the coming years.
Anderlecht director: Lokonga will be a top player for Arsenal
Verbeke said: “Sambi is of course a very good player. He’s one of the top talents coming from our academy. He can play as a defensive midfield player, he can play as a box-to-box player and, especially the last two seasons at the club, he has developed really well.
“He’s someone who is good on the ball, his technical ability in tight spaces is really good. Good short passing, good long passing. He’s always been a late developer so it’s only in the last season that his physical development really came into place.
“It means now he has the qualities to be able to recover more balls, he’s better in duels and that’s why I think he could develop in a role as a defensive midfielder for Arsenal in years to come.
“Of course, he still has some working points. He needs to get better statistics as a box-to-box and needs to be a little bit tougher in duels as a defensive midfielder, but he already did really well last season and I expect him only to do better in the next season. I think Arsenal made a good decision on him and I think he is going to be a top player for Arsenal in the years to come.”
The Insider’s View:
Lokonga is an exceptional talent, everybody who has followed Anderlecht over the last two years will tell you that. He has all the characteristics to become a top-quality player for Arsenal, but it will not happen overnight.
The Gunners are expected to bring in a more accomplished central midfielder to partner Partey. Lokonga will have to learn from the pair and earn his spot in the first team, and that will take some time.
However, we’ve seen Matteo Guendouzi and Gabriel Martinelli come from nowhere and hit the ground running in the Premier League over the last few years. It’s unlikely that Lokonga will do the same, but stranger things have happened in football, and that’s exactly why we can’t wait to see him in action.