ALBERT SAMBI LOKONGA IS THE RECENT MAN ON ARSENAL'S RADAR; WILL THE YOUNGSTER CHANGE THE SCENARIO AT THE EMIRATES OR WILL HE BE A DISASTROUS BUY?
A catastrophic, shambolic, and disastrous season for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal ended with a 2-0 victory against Brighton. From the ‘Invincibles’ to the ‘Invisibles’, the Gunners’ are starving for a season showering with trophies. With a few holes to fill, Mikel Arteta’s summer shopping has begun with Anderlecht’s defensive midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga topping his catalogue as Arsenal will look to make their midfield dynamic more complete.
Arsenal are still working on final details to sign Albert Sambi Lokonga. Personal terms agreed, €17.5m + €4.5m add ons offered but future sale percentage to be discussed. 🇧🇪 #AFC
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 5, 2021
A staggering defensive midfielder, Lokonga has racked up some impressive numbers under his Player CV. Lokonga could possibly the perfect partner for Granit Xhaka or Thomas Partey at Arsenal. Sambi Lokonga’s all-round displays in midfield this season means he would complement Gunner’s duo perfectly in 3 in center of the park.
Will Albert Sambi Lokonga prove to be a diamond dug out from the Belgian caves or will he turn out to be a backfiring purchase, we figure out?
THE ATTACKING FLAIR
Although Arsenal banged just one goal less than last campaign, the expected flamboyance and wizardry at the Emirates went missing. Their magic man in front of goal, Pierre Emerick Aubemayang forgot his magic wand at home and completely flopped. The fact that his fancy hairstyles were his highlights of the season spoke volumes about his shambolic outing. Bukayo Saka and Nicola Pepe rose to glory but the youngsters looked hot and cold throughout. Albert Sambi Lokonga could perfectly solve Arsenal’s attacking puzzle. A defensive midfielder with an attacking mindset, Lokonga isn’t a Matic or a Busquets, the young Red Devil is a disguised Bernando Silva or a hidden Isco.
With 3 goals this campaign, Lokonga has proved why he could be a hidden weapon for Arsenal’s attacking battery. The starter of the charge, the Belgian has 2 more goals than a defensive-minded Xhaka while Partey is yet to find the back of the net. With a passing accuracy of 85.8%, Lokonga commands the midfield rarely losing possession. The youngster’s crossing knife seems a little blunt but under proper guidance, the 14.3% crossing accuracy can rocket sky-high. Sambi loves a hint of pressure and would be seen taking the centre stage at the Emirates.
Another swashbuckling youngster with sparkling eyes and a vivacious technique, Albert Sambi Lokonga dictates the game when the possession is in his jurisdiction. His vision is beyond explanation and the knack of forcing his forwards to make those sneaky runs bolsters his case. 3 goals and 2 assists might not seem like a mouthwatering number but if compared with Lokonga’s previous campaigns, the figures have gone uphill. Lastly the Belgian is not scared to unleash a rocket from distance and he rarely misses the goalkeeper’s frame. Keeping his rival number on toes, Lokonga fascinates the defenders to commit a challenge on him and he could allure penalties and free-kicks with his devious stratagems.
LOKONGA’S DEFENSIVE TECHNIQUE
The defensive situation at Emirates has worsened with every passing day. Arteta’s backline is an unlatched barrier for rivals to gallop in and smash thundering goals. While the attacking force’s goal-scoring potential has declined, the dysfunctioning defence is Arteta’s prime headache. With Sambi Lokonga’s presence in the centre of the pitch, Arsenal has the luxury to attack without worrying about being slapped on a counter. Lokonga’s attendance in Arteta’s roadmap gives an extra cushion to both the defence and attack. The first face while defending, the Belgium midfielder can be the engine behind Arsenal’s attacking darts.
The 21-year-old averages 1.64 tackles each game matching it with 1.82 interceptions. Although these statistics might not be appealing, Lokonga’s numbers are a step ahead of the other defensive midfielders in the Gunners’ arsenal. The duo of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka managed to assemble just 1.43 and 0.84 interceptions respectively. Manufacturing 1.1 clearances whenever he has donned Anderlecht’s jersey is a staggering number. Although Vincent Kompany, Lokonga’s manager at Anderlecht believes the youngster could still polish his defensive techniques, he’s already head and shoulders above the other defensive midfielders residing in his age bracket.
The only problem that could worry Arteta is Lokonga’s knack for committing fouls. Arsenal’s latest summer transfer executes 1.2 fouls each match. While the number is small, the big sharks in the Premier League would look to capitalise on it by winning smart free-kicks in dangerous positions. The likes of Mo Salah and Harry Kane attract an illegal challenge with ease and could trouble Lokonga at Arsenal. Although aspiration of earning a Premier League medal will be on the young Belgians bucket list, not sure if Lokonga would be able to do at Arsenal for the next two years.