Arsenal legend Martin Keown has told his former club that they must strengthen in midfield during the summer transfer window. He singled out Albert Sambi Lokonga in particular, saying the Belgian is not good enough.
Lokonga signed for Arsenal during the summer transfer window as Mikel Arteta put his mark on the Gunners. He has made 18 appearances in the top-flight this season but has frequently looked out of his depth, with Mohamed Elneny more recently called upon in place of the injured Thomas Partey.
Arteta is as aware as anyone that Arsenal need to strengthen ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. European football will return to the Emirates next season alongside the extra demands it places on a club and the manager has a goal in mind for the summer.
“If you can financially afford it and we don’t have to do the turnaround in the squad that we’ve had to do,” Arteta told a press conference in April. “If you ask me what I want it’s 22 outfield players and three goalkeepers. You have to come a long way in the aspects that you see on the pitch, it’s a lot of things that have to be put in place, and that takes time.”
Arsenal splashed over £140 million on new signings last summer with the likes of Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale and Martin Odegaard arriving. But they were criticised for not strengthening further in January and Keown believes that reinforcements in midfield particularly will be essential.
“The middle is where the club needs to strengthen, I think with [Granit] Xhaka, it is time for change, I am not saying get rid of him completely,” Keown said on talkSPORT. “I just feel if he is coming on and making a contribution in midfield, then he needs to get better and develop.
“[Thomas] Partey has been injured for long periods of the season, and [Albert Sambi] Lokonga has been deemed to be not quite good enough. Mohamed Elneny, is he the answer? So the midfield, that engine room is a key area which needs to be better.”