AS Roma have made their decision on potentially signing Albert Sambi Lokonga from Arsenal this summer after manager Jose Mourinho was offered the Belgian’s transfer.
That is according to Gazzetta dello Sport (27/7, p14), which reports that intermediaries have approached Roma to discuss a transfer for Lokonga. The Serie A side are looking to sign new midfielders in this market. Mourinho is pushing to build on losing in the Europa League final.
Roma signed Georginio Wijnaldum on loan from Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the 2022/23 season to add depth in their core. But the Dutchman suffered a fractured tibia in training in his first days in Rome. Now, another PSG player might be on his way to the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma now near a deal for Renato Sanches after rejecting Albert Sambi Lokonga
Renato Sanches is in advanced talks with Roma over an initial loan transfer from PSG which would carry an option to buy. The Giallorossi’s general manager, Tiago Pinto, is now close to reaching an agreement for an option worth around €12-13m (£10-11m) for the Portuguese.
PSG will also continue to pay Sanches’ €5.5m-a-year (£90k-a/w) salary during his loan spell in Italy. But talks between the Ligue 1 and Serie A sides only advanced after Roma rejected an intermediaries’ offer to chase the transfer of Lokonga from Arsenal this summer instead.
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Pinto personally rejected the offer to sign Lokonga before picking Sanches over the Arsenal midfielder’s transfer. The Giallorossi chief did not feel the 23-year-old’s skillset matches the requirements that Mourinho has set out. So, Pinto advanced his team’s interest in Sanches.
Albert Sambi Lokonga faces an uncertain future at Arsenal in the transfer window
Arsenal signed Lokonga from RSC Anderlecht for £15m, rising to £17m with add-ons, back in July 2021. He also put pen to paper on a contract running until June 2026 to secure a switch to Emirates Stadium. The Gunners considered him at the time to be a signing for the future.
Yet his future in north London is increasingly uncertain after falling out of favour whilst away on loan last term. Lokonga joined Crystal Palace under Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira during the January window. But he struggled to get any minutes after Roy Hodgson took them over.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta praised Lokonga as a ‘very intelligent’ player when he joined from Anderlecht. Yet he only started the one-cap Belgium international in two of a potential 18 Premier League games in 2022/23. Lokonga also only featured in four games as a substitute.
Lokonga would join Crystal Palace having not featured in the top-flight since October 1. The move initially paid off as he started in five of his seven appearances under Vieira from seven games. But Hodgson’s arrival put Lokonga on the bench as he featured twice over 10 games.