The agent of Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga has hit out at Belgium boss Roberto Martinez for not giving his client game time during the international break.
Lokonga made his name at Anderlecht under Vincent Kompany’s stewardship, subsequently catching the Gunners’ eyes. Indeed, manager Mikel Arteta and transfer chief Edu felt persuaded to bring him to north London.
The 22-year-old has played 10 of 12 Premier League games so far this season. Overall, he has made 12 outings in all competitions.
He has therefore become a key player for Arteta but recently admitted that he did not expect such a big role so quickly.
As a result of his club rise, Lokonga made his senior Belgium debut in September. While he did not make the October squad for the Nations League finals, he featured in the squad for November’s fixtures.
Nevertheless, he remained on the bench for matches against Estonia and Wales. That is despite Dennis Praet and Youri Tielemans not featuring either.
Lokonga’s agent took to Twitter to raise his frustrations at his client’s lack of international game time.
Stijn Francis wrote: “10 matches at the number 5 of the premier league: 0 minutes in the last two matches of the Belgian national team. What a wealth we have.”
Upon his signing, Arteta revealed his admiration for Lokonga. Speaking in October ahead of the draw with Brighton, though, the manager spoke of how well the midfielder has adapted.
Arteta said: “He’s been terrific, the way he has adapted how quickly to what we want, the personality he shows on the pitch.
“We have to use him. For his age, he’s really mature.”
Lokonga insisted that he will only improve under his club manager’s guidance.
Lokonga hoping for Arsenal improvement
He said: “The manager speaks to me a lot, I like that, but he doesn’t let me rest.
“I was told that he’d said that my integration and my performances impressed him. Good, but next year, he’ll see an even better Sambi!”
Arsenal return to action on Saturday when facing Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League.
The Gunners have turned a corner following three defeats in a row to start the season and now sit fifth, two points behind the Reds.