Albert Sambi Lokonga is set to remain with Arsenal this summer despite Arsenal’s interest in Youri Tielemans and the acquisition of Fabio Vieira, football.london understands. Mikel Arteta wants a full-strength group of midfielders for the four competitions next season.
With Mohamed Elneny renewing his contract, Arsenal have the Egyptian plus Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Fabio Vieira, Martin Odegaard and the potential youth stars of Charlie Patino and Miguel Azeez in addition to Lokonga.
The interest in Tielemans has lessened in the past week, as reported by Goal, with the club focused on completing potential deals for Gabriel Jesus, Raphinha and Lisandro Martinez. However, despite this, it is unlikely any of the existing core of midfielders will depart and that other central midfield players could be targeted instead.
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Vincent Kompany’s appointment at English side Burnley had sparked suggestions that Lokonga’s former coach could move for the 22-year-old on loan. However, Lokonga who impressed during the first half of last season, in particular, will stay with Arsenal football.london understands.
The Europa League is being targeted as a particular outlet to help the Belgian international develop further. Lokonga had a rocky display in the 2-1 home loss to Brighton at the end of the season in the absence of Partey, but it is this role that he is believed to excel in for the long term.
“I can play as a six and I can play like a box to box, but yeah, people say that I’m better in the six-position,” Lokonga said upon his arrival at the club last summer. This was shown in the performances against Newcastle, Aston Villa, Leicester and Watford in the first half of the season whilst Granit Xhaka was out with a serious knee injury.
However, the Swiss international’s return and the early exit from the FA Cup limited Lokonga’s playing time. Arteta admitted in January that Lokonga had played far more than he expected him to.
“When we signed him, the expectation that we had for him in the first year was to start adapting but he has had to play many more minutes than we expected and the kid is trying his best, and I think he’s doing pretty well,” said the Arsenal manager.