Exclusive: Blockbuster Arsenal signing to force £17m man out, with move to London rival possible
A major addition in midfield is likely to force a £17m Arsenal man out this summer, and a move to a London rival is a distinct possibility, TEAMtalk has learned.
The Gunners pushed for a high profile midfield addition during the winter window. Multiple bids for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo were tabled, though the Seagulls were unwilling to sell mid-season to any suitor – including Chelsea.
The rejection saw Arsenal quickly ramp up a move for the experienced Jorginho instead. The Chelsea veteran moved across London in a deal worth £12m.
However, despite boasting a formidable corps of midfielders that also includes Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey, manager Mikel Arteta remains on the hunt for new recruits.
Xhaka, Partey and Jorginho will all be the wrong side of 30 by the beginning of next season. As such, a blockbuster move for a Premier League-proven star such as Caicedo or West Ham’s Declan Rice has been touted.
Now, speaking exclusively to TEAMtalk, reporter Ben Jacobs stressed current Arsenal midfielder, Albert Sambi Lokonga, is primed to become a casualty of Arsenal’s summer spree.
Lokonga, 23, arrived from Anderlecht in 2021 with hopes high of making a major dent in the Premier League.
However, he’s not made the impact the Gunners expected and as such, was loaned out to Crystal Palace in January.
Jacobs revealed Lokonga is enjoying his greater role under Gunners legend Patrick Vieira at Palace where he’s already racked up more league minutes in six weeks than in the first half of the campaign at Arsenal.
As such, a permanent move could be on the cards at season’s end, especially if Arsenal bolster their midfield with a major addition.
“With Lokonga we know that he’s enjoying life under Patrick Vieira at Crystal Palace,” said Jacobs.
“He only joined about a year and a half or so ago from Anderlecht and at that point, he was kind of billed as the next Yaya Toure.
“But it never really worked out playing for Arsenal, he never lived up to the billing, and has been forced out on loan as a result and it doesn’t really feel like he’s going to be part of Arsenal’s plans moving forward.
“So it is a very realistic possibility that he goes. He only played six times for Arsenal in the Premier League before the loan move to Crystal Palace.
“That would suggest Mikel Arteta probably doesn’t see him as part of the plans, but he’s only 23. That’s the only caveat.”
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Rice or Caicedo could spell end for Lokonga
On Arsenal targetting another high profile central midfielder, Jacobs continued: “The other thing that lends itself towards Lokonga being allowed to leave is the fact that in that position in the summer, Arsenal are likely to add others who’ll move ahead of him in the pecking order.
“So even if he does well at Crystal Palace, there can be new names that come in that push him further down the pecking order as well.
“It’s still in Lokonga’s hands in some ways, I guess you could argue, because if he’s outstanding for Crystal Palace, you almost have that Saliba scenario where he did amazing at Marseille, Arsenal brought him back, Arteta gave him a chance, he was thrown straight into the team, and now Saliba is an automatic starter.
“But I just feel because of where Lokonga plays, and where Arsenal are going to strengthen, that it’s more likely that Lokonga will go.
“If Arsenal, for example, bring in Declan Rice and they were looking at Moises Caicedo as well in January, that does create a very uncertain future for Lokonga.”
Jacobs concluded by stressing Lokonga too may wish to depart given he’s getting a taste of regular game-time at Selhurst Park. In Jacobs’ words, the Belgian may indicate he no longer wishes to “settle for being a squad player”.
In that scenario, and with little to no hope of being a regular at the Emirates, a sale would be to the benefit of all involved.
READ MORE: Arsenal identify £52.5m Caicedo alternative, as Arteta eyes LaLiga sensation and West Ham star to revamp his midfield