Albert Sambi Lokonga clarifies his role as transfer to Arsenal is confirmed

Date published: Monday 19th July 2021 3:35 - Samuel Bannister

Albert Sambi Lokonga, Anderlecht midfielder

Arsenal have announced the signing of Belgian midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht for an undisclosed fee.

One of Arsenal’s main targets for the summer, Lokonga has completed his move to the Emirates Stadium, where he has signed a long-term contract. He will wear the number 23 shirt, with Sambi on the back.

Strengthening midfield is a priority task for Arsenal during this transfer window. They have lost Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard after their loan spells expired and have also allowed Matteo Guendouzi to leave again. Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka could also depart.

The first reinforcement in that territory has now arrived after Lokonga’s move from Anderlecht was confirmed, subject to regulatory processes.

The 21-year-old made 78 appearances for the Belgian side after coming through their academy. He will now get his first taste of Premier League football.

“It’s a big move because I have been playing for Anderlecht for 10 years so it’s going to be my first big move to another country,” he told arsenal.com.

“It’s a big step, but I feel confident because we have to be. In the football world, you have to feel confident about yourself. But I’m looking to play in this league and I can’t wait to start.”

Clarifying his role, Lokonga said he could play as a defensive midfielder or in a more dynamic position.

“I can play both,” he said. “I can play as a six and I can play like a box to box. But people say that I’m better in the six position.”

Lokonga is Arsenal’s second signing of the summer following the addition of full-back Nuno Tavares.

His arrival brings a successful end to a long pursuit. Arsenal have been encouraged by what they have seen from him in Belgium.

Technical director Edu said: “We are delighted Albert has signed with us, as there was a lot of interest in him and he was a big target for us.

“Albert is a player we’ve been tracking for some time, and he will bring us strength in depth in the centre of midfield. We look forward to his continued development with us.”

Arteta explains Lokonga addition

Manager Mikel Arteta knows exactly what it takes to succeed in Arsenal’s midfield. He is confident Lokonga will do so after utilising a connection from his time coaching at Manchester City to learn about the player.

Arteta said: “Albert is a very intelligent player who has shown great maturity in his performances during his development. He has been coached well by Vincent Kompany and his team at Anderlecht.

“I know Vincent very well and he talks so highly about Albert and the positive impact he had to Anderlecht in recent seasons.

“We’re confident Albert’s ready for the next stage in his development and we’re looking forward to welcoming a new member to our squad with his quality and presence.”

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