Squad number already handed out as Arsenal close on €17.5m midfielder

Albert Sambi Lokonga, Zinho Vanheusden, Belgium

Arsenal are reportedly ‘very close’ to announcing the signing of Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga in a €17.5million deal, with his shirt number already decided.

The player is said to have completed the required quarantine to seal his transfer to north London. Lokonga has spent the last few days in isolation as per government guidelines, waiting for his move from the Belgian outfit to be ratified.

Belgian outlet Het Nieuwsblad (as cited by Sport Witness) states that Anderlecht will receive around €17.5m (£15m) once the deal has been signed off.

The report adds that Lokonga has already elected to wear the number 48 shirt at The Emirates. That is the same number he currently has at Anderlecht. It relates to the postcode of his hometown, Verviers, which is 4800.

The talented 21-year-old will sign a five-year deal and has already completed his medical ahead of the deal.

Once the contract has been signed, Lokonga will join up with Mikel Arteta’s first-team squad.

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The Gunners are currently preparing for the new season and face Scottish Rangers in a friendly on Saturday.

However, that match is likely to come too soon for Lokonga. He should, however, feature against Inter Milan in the Florida Cup the weekend after.

Newcastle closing in on Arsenal man

Meanwhile, Newcastle will quickly shift their focus to signing a Chelsea midfielder after a deal for a familiar Arsenal face was deemed ‘close’, per a report.

Despite frequent criticism, Steve Bruce guided Newcastle to a respectable 12th-placed finish last year. Admittedly, the Magpies were entrenched in a relegation dogfight until a late season surge saw them break free.

A key component behind their purple patch of form was undoubtedly the goalscoring prowess of Joe Willock.

On loan from Arsenal, the English midfielder tied a Premier League club record held by Alan Shearer for consecutive number of games scored in (seven).

Understandably, Newcastle have widely been reported to be keen to bring the 22-year-old back on board.

Mikel Arteta’s recent comments suggested he hopes Willock will remain at the Emirates next season. However, he immediately left the exit door ajar by revealing they wish to get the most out of him while they still can.

“Joe is part of our plans, he’s our player. In the time that he is here we will try to make the most out of him,” said Arteta.

Now, per Caught Offside (citing the Telegraph), Willock’s potential return to St. James’ Park is gathering steam.

They deem another loan stint in the North East for Willock to be ‘close’ to being agreed.

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