A major European club has reportedly begun transfer talks with Albert Sambi Lokonga, even though he only went to Arsenal last summer.
Lokonga came through the Anderlecht academy and went on to make 78 appearances in their senior team. His impressive displays in Belgium saw Arsenal pay around £15.8million for him in July 2021.
Lokonga has great potential and at 22 years old he has plenty of time to become a top central midfielder.
But Lokonga didn’t make much of an impact during his first year in England. The one-cap Belgium international started the season by getting regular game time, only to lose his place from December onwards.
The 22-year-old featured 19 times in the Premier League, though only nine of these resulted in a full 90 minutes.
Lokonga is hoping to prove his doubters wrong and impress during the 2022-23 campaign. He made a late substitute appearance during Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Friday night.
However, the player could end up leaving Mikel Arteta’s side this summer. According to Italian source Tuttomercatoweb, reigning Serie A champions AC Milan want to sign Lokonga.
The Rossoneri are desperate to improve their midfield while the transfer window is still open. And Lokonga is one of the players on their shortlist to solve this issue.
Albert Sambi Lokonga receives contact from Italian giants
The report claims Arsenal are willing to let him go. An exit would likely occur through a season-long loan, rather than through a permanent deal.
Milan have already made steps to take Lokonga to Italy. They are in contact with his agent to find out whether the midfielder would be up for the switch.
One important factor could be Milan’s signing of Charles De Ketelaere. He is a Belgium team-mate of Lokonga’s and this could result in the Arsenal man moving to the San Siro.
The report doesn’t refer to how much of Lokonga’s wages Arsenal would want paying. But Milan have plenty of finances at their disposal and this means the Gunners would probably ask for a significant portion of his salary.
A transfer is now up to Lokonga and Arsenal. The club won’t want him to go as that would leave Arteta with one less option in midfield.
And their strength in depth will come under scrutiny this season amid their pursuit of Europa League glory and a return to the Premier League’s top four.
For Lokonga though, a season away from Arsenal would serve him well. He needs to get his confidence back up and playing regularly at a club of Milan’s stature would surely do this.
This would benefit Arsenal as Lokonga would return as a better and more confident player next summer. But the north London side are expected to prioritise their squad depth over Lokonga’s desires right now.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have been told how much money they will need to part with to land Yeremy Pino from Villarreal.