Poor old Mikel Arteta and Edu must be running around in circles trying to secure Arsenal’s first signing of the summer window.
It would appear that the Gunners are desperately in need of midfielders after Ceballos and Martin Odegaard returned to their parent club Real Madrid, with reports saying that Carlo Ancelotti will not be allowing the young Norwegian to return to the Emirates next season.
This big gap in midfield could grow even bigger if the reports are true about Granit Xhaka wanting to join Jose Mourinho at Roma, but I honestly don’t think Arteta can afford to let him go until he has secured enough replacements in the middle of the pitch.
It looked like Buendia was the main target after Odegaard, but with Aston Villa gazumping Arsenal’s bid for the ex-Norwich man, the latest target appears to be the young Anderlect man Albert Sambi Lokonga and the Athletic is reporting that our opening bid of a paltry €15 million has been rejected by the Belgian side, as they are wanting more like €20 million for their exciting young prospect.
The 21-year-old’s current club are open to him leaving this summer, as the Belgian side posted a 60 million loss in the past two years. Thus, selling their prized asset can offset their recent losses to a considerable degree.
The midfielder is also open to a new adventure in the current shop window if the correct opportunity arises this summer.
“I will not go to a club which is inferior to Anderlecht,” Lokonga told the Belgian media last month.
“I will only leave Anderlecht if all the ingredients are there. Yes, I feel ready to take a step forward and rub shoulders with great players, but everything will depend on the proposals that will be made during this summer.”
The midfielder made an impressive 37 appearances for Vincent Kompany’s squad last season, scoring three goals and assisting a further three.
Despite his age, the Belgian international has already featured in 78 games for Anderlecht.
Lokonga is pretty versatile too. He can play as a number eight as well as a deep-lying midfielder.
The interest in him makes sense, due to Arsenal’s revised policy of signing young players with a high ceiling, that can be sold later at a good price.
Too many times in the past, the North London side have let go prized assets for free or a nominal fee. Thus, Edu and Richard Garlick will work to steady the ship according to their liking, rather than letting the club getting affected by the tides.
There is no doubt in the fact that Sambi Lokonga is an extremely talented footballer. The midfielder can pass (0.9 Key Passes last season), dribble (0.9 dribbles), tackle (1.5) and can also break the plays of the opposition (1.7 interceptions).
If there is a difference of just 5 million between Anderlecht’s valuation and Arsenal’s, I personally believe that the Gunners should stump the money on the table, if they are of the view that Lokonga has a great career in front of him.
Losing out on Lokonga after Emi Buendia would be really discouraging and frustrating for the Arsenal board as well as the supporters. They should tie this up quickly and move on to our next midfield target…