Arsenal

Albert Sambi Lokonga opens up on Arsenal start and what Mikel Arteta expects from him

Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga is ‘very happy’ with his start to life in north London and knows there is more to come in future seasons.

Lokonga, 22, has really got stuck into the challenge that presented itself when he completed his £16million move in the summer from Vincent Kompany’s Anderlecht, a move that may well have been heavily influenced by Thierry Henry’s praise and belief in the youngster – and a legend like the Frenchmen knew what he was talking about.

The midfielder, despite not starting every game this season, has made a real impact already on the Arsenal faithful, who didn’t really know what to expect from him when he signed.

His ability to approach the challenge of making a name for himself in the Gunners’ double pivot has been demonstrated with the four yellow cards that he has received so far this season in the top flight – that is the joint-third most out of any player so far in the 2021/22 campaign, as per FBref.com.

Having come from a league that is usually known for its slower tempo in comparison to the Premier League, it was likely that it could take some adjustment time for Lokonga before he really started to flourish.

His life domestically and on the international scene has really taken off since making the north London switch and he wouldn’t have it any other way, as he revealed in an interview done over the international break.

He said to RTBF, via Sport Witness: “Yes, it’s gone a bit quicker than anticipated, but I was well prepared physically, mentally and on a football level.

“I don’t want to say that I had the required qualities but apparently they suit the manager. I’m fighting for my spot, I play games and I’m getting minutes. I’m very happy. I made the right choice, but I already knew that”.

It’s only an upwards trajectory to date for the 22-year-old, who has already looked ahead to what is to come next for his playing career at Arsenal, and it’s good news for Gunners fans as there seemingly is more to come from the midfielder.

Lokonga added: “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!”

These comments have been validated with what manager Arteta said on the youngster ahead of the win against Watford before the international break.

“Sambi has shown a really quick adaptation, a lot of intelligence and courage,” the Arsenal boss said. “He’s constantly trying to affect the game in the right way.”