Premier League • England

Arsenal loan deal at serious risk of early termination as Arteta faces maddening January dilemma

Arsenal loanee Albert Sambi Lokonga with Luton Town, Gunners manager Mikel Arteta

Arsenal could be saddled with Albert Sambi Lokonga earlier than expected, with TEAMtalk learning Luton Town are giving serious consideration to trading the midfielder in for an upgrade.

Lokonga cost Arsenal £17.2m when signed from Belgian side Anderlecht back in 2021. The central midfielder has thus far failed to make the grade in north London and has twice been loaned out to fellow Premier League sides.

Lokonga spent the second half of last season loaned to Crystal Palace. On the back of Arsenal signing Declan Rice and Kai Havertz over the summer, another temporary exit was greenlit.

The one-cap Belgium international, 24, signed with newly-promoted Luton Town on a season-long loan. However, the move has not panned out how any involved would have hoped.

Lokonga suffered a hamstring injury early in his stint with the Hatters that has limited him to just a handful of appearances.

The midfielder returned to action in the narrow 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on December 10.

He was then selected to start in the abandoned clash with Bournemouth, though that opportunity only arose due to Marvelous Nakamba missing out through suspension.

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Luton consider new loan

TEAMtalk have now been told Luton are content with the other midfielders on their books and are weighing up whether to send Lokonga back to Arsenal next month.

Luton believe a replacement loanee in a different position may better serve their fight for survival in the second half of the season.

To that end, Luton are being inundated with loan opportunities and terminating Lokonga’s own loan at the halfway mark would be the first step towards a different addition.

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Taking that route would present Arsenal with a new problem to solve in the winter window.

The Belgian is unlikely to feature heavily in manager Mikel Arteta’s plans if pushed back to north London.

As such, a second exit in the 2023/24 campaign – most likely via the loan route once again – could be explored.

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