Midfielder says it was his decision to stay at Arsenal despite not playing many games

Albert Sambi Lokonga is struggling to play at Arsenal and he might become one of the players who never gets a chance to make a name at the Emirates.

The Belgian joined the Gunners in the last campaign and he got a few games under his belt partly because of the injuries to the men above him on the pecking order.

However, as Arsenal makes much more progress in this campaign, he is struggling to play and it has been a frustrating situation.

The midfielder could have asked for guarantees over playing time or to be allowed to leave Arsenal at the end of last season.

But he elected to stay and he has now revealed it was his decision to spend another season at the Emirates.

He tells DH via Sport Witness: “It’s a personal decision [to stay]. I wanted to give myself another year to stay at Arsenal and then see what happens. I think I have the qualities to succeed here. Last season, I didn’t perform at my best level. I still have things to prove.”

Just Arsenal Opinion

Sambi Lokonga did not do so well when he had chances to play for Arsenal last season and that has not helped his case.

The players playing instead of him are much better than the Belgian midfielder, so his spell on the bench might be longer.

In the January transfer window, he can ask to leave if he believes he has to play more than is the case now.

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Tags Albert Sambi Lokonga


  1. I believe most of us, though quite liking him personally, do not believe he is quite good enough and in order to stay long term he will need to improve quite a bit.

    He MAY do so of course but I do not think we can afford to wait and, on balance, I see him leaving, at latest next summer. Perhaps earlier !

  2. I hear a player is not good enough quite a lot. These guys are instructed on what to do. They follow a laid tactics or plans in each game. I remember Arteta defended one of his defenders who screwed up while playing from the back. He said he asked them to do that and that was the plan. And team arsenal has gotten better at it. Sambi was signed because Arteta believed I his talent and how best to deploy it as asset to hos team. His limited roles are not the right judgement of his talent. He has been doing what was asked of him. I think we will see more of him as the coach prepares him for more roles in some games. I expect him to do well just as they did in Bodo. We need to understand the roles of each position and judge accordingly. So far his role has been in the game closer role. Meaning the job is to lock in the win based on coach’s prescribed instructions. Let’s criticize but most importantly support our players. This team is doing phenomenal wonders and we need to back them up and pull up the strugglers.

    1. Fair points that we should all keep in mind, but it’s also the case that sometimes the player isn’t capable of fulfilling their inductions. That either means they’re not good enough, or just don’t have the specific skillset or adaptability to do what they’re being asked to do. I think we’ve seen the latter with lokonga on a few occasions, although he’s not been as bad as some would make out imo

  3. Sambi is a very talented central midfielder who is probably more suited to a more attacking role on the right side of a three with Partey as DM and with Xhaka or Zinchenko on the left.In the Europa Cup games he has filled in for Partey as DM a role to which he is not suited for a number of reasons.The trouble is that Arteta seems settled on a 4-2-3-1 system with either Odegaard or Vieira as the AM and as such unless Partey is injured, Lokonga is unlikely to feature for the foreseeable future.In these circumstances we have a greater need for a tough, athletic DM than a direct replacement for Sambi if he is moved on.

    1. That is my impression as well – seems like he’s suffering a bit like xhaka was, through being asked to play a position he’s not really suited to. He’s shown his quality in flashes, but needs a run of games in the more advanced role before we can really judge imo. There’s also the possibility he really improves in the partey position, but it takes time. Maybe he needs a loan.

    2. Grandad before the Elneny injury,Arteta deployed Sambi in the Xhaka position on more than one occasion.This could mean that he thinks he’s most suited to the left midfield role.Everybody,or most people including the coach agree that he’s not suited to the DM- he’s only there because there are no other options. I think it’s too early to speak of moving him on because he hasn’t got an extended run in the team in the CM role.One thing is for sure-he is a very good passer of the ball.

  4. I agree that DM is not his position..Sambi is a box to box midfielder..he’s 22 and as a midfielder he also need to know how to be a DM as well..like in the game with Leeds a box to box midfielder had to defend a lot…it’s a skill set sambal has to develop in him and Arteta is giving him that chance to develop his game…remember we are not the finished article….Arteta told us that he will give us champions league in 3 seasons…that’s this season….Arteta also told us that he will give us the league
    we need a DM and a goal scoring forward player…after Xhaka our box to box midfielder will be Sambal
    My humble opinion

  5. The kid need a season long loan somewhere that he’s allowed to play week in wee out,
    He is more of a B2B midfielder similar to Guendouzi

  6. Lokonga is a good player,no need of sending him on loan, Elneyni is not available and preparing for his exit,we need to keep Lokonga.

  7. I was excited about signing Lokonga. But having watched him since last season I am not convinced yet. He just seems like a 16 year old academy player being given game time in the first team. Seems weak, slow, poor positioning, no presence, very introverted on the field, etc..

    He needs to up his presence on the pitch. Seems to quiet and not too involved.

      1. @Grandad
        It’s just an opinion that I have formed so far from my own observation of Lokonga.
        As always, it’s a personal opinion and no hard feelings.

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