Vincent Kompany says the first time he watched Albert Sambi Lokonga he immediately described his young compatriot to Mikel Arteta as “the new Yaya Toure”.
The Belgium legend was still a player at Manchester City when he first came across Arsenal’s summer signing playing for Anderlecht and later went on to become Sambi’s manager after he hung up his boots at the Etihad and returned to Lotto Park.
While Kompany admits the 22-year-old still has room for improvement, he insists Lokonga has key qualities to have a big future in the game.
Interviewed by Rio Ferdinand on his YouTube channel ‘FIVE’, he revealed: “When I was still at City, I was coming to a point where I was thinking about my future, to become a manager or sign a new deal.
“I was watching football from different countries, different places and I saw Sambi play his first game, first two games for Anderlecht and then he got a big injury to his knee.
“The first thing I did when I saw Sambi is I went to Mikel and also Pep, but Mikel first and said, “You got to watch this guy, he’s the new Yaya Toure. Anyway, nothing comes off it, he’s got a cruciate ligament [injury].
“Then I fall into the management job at Anderlecht, so I’m working with him. I had the same conversation with Mikel and I believe the same thing now.”
Put to him that Toure was a generational talent, Kompany continued: “I’m not sure I’m doing him a favour saying this stuff. Look, you know what I like about Sambi, what Yaya did have, is, he wants the ball no matter what.
“If the team is not doing well, give the ball to Sambi. Team doing well? Give the ball to Sambi. He will never hide away from his responsibilities.
“He has things to improve. If he remembers the conversations we had, he will know exactly what he still needs to work on. The only thing Yaya had [that Sambi doesn’t] is that Yaya was also a finisher. That’s a very rare thing to have.
“My point though is you need players who are not afraid to have the ball when the going gets tough.
“You’ve been in a team yourself, where you as a centre-back, your job stops at a certain point on the ball and you need to be able to give it to people who see the next pass, the next move, take responsibility for taking people on and put the tempo in when there’s no tempo in the game. For me, that’s what Sambi has that makes him special.”
Nice words from Kompany who knows his onions when it comes to decent players. No pressure Sambi, if you could just become Yaya Toure, that would be lovely.
You can watch the full interview below…
I cannot remember 100% success rate with signings from any of the past Arsenal transfer windows. But this 2021 window was absolutely perfect. If you are smart, your smart signings won’t be adjusting to the league for two years. Six signings, zero duds. This cannot be a fluke.
Guys, Arsenal transfer strategy might finally be smart.
That summer 2003 when we signed just one player. A german goalkeeper and it was 200% success
To be brutally honest, I do feel that out of the players we signed, Odegaard has the most still to prove. He hasn’t been in super form for us yet, and I think personally it’s to early to call his signing a success until we see more from him. Don’t get me wrong, I actually think we got a pretty great deal for him and expect that he will fulfill his potential significantly more than we are currently seeing. I think when he’s injury free and can play with freedom he can be really good. It’s just a good thing… Read more »
That’s true, but I feel he was a victim of the fact that our two striker options – Auba and Laca – are both incomplete players, and need to be played together to offer a threat up top.
I strongly believe that should we sign a more complete striker – ala Calvert-Lewin – next summer, Martin will come good next to him. Fingers crossed!
Agreed, I think there are totally valid reasons for him not performing at the very top level yet, not all of which are things he can control. As has been talked about in recent Arsecasts, a big element of a signing’s success is how they fit into the overall team structure. I seriously believe he will come good, but I just argue that it’s still too far in the future column rather than the present to be calling his signing a success already.
I don’t agree with him being a victim of our strikers. I’d suggest most players are ‘incomplete’. Auba’s record across his career speaks for itself. We’ve seen what Odegaard is capable of so I suspect he is probably just down on form and / or confidence for now.
Calvert Lewin is another nketia. He had a half good season that’s it. He’s been hopeless before that and is having a tough time again right now. We need to set our sights higher than him.
Mate! We’re signing Haaland! That’s what the Ø has been working on.
Really though, is DC-L Arsenal material?
Totally agree. I think he could end up as a number 8 rather than 10.
He’s still very young with massive potential 👍
perhaps MO can play in Bergkamp position like second striker.
Might be an unpopular opinion, but I’m not sure Ødegaard has fully adapted to the pace and physicality of the league yet, even though he was here for half a season. He’s gone missing in the kinds of games where you’d expect him to be stamping his authority, and the contrast with Lacazette in that role is night and day. He’s still a very talented player, mind, but that adaption will take time and it’s telling that Arteta doesn’t yet have him back in the starting 11. If Lacazette were to leave in January or the summer, I’d hope the… Read more »
I wonder if you’d be saying this right now if he came off the bench and Auba didn’t stop his goal.
Pretty sure I would be, yeah. Think of it this way; if Ødegaard had scored that goal, would that be enough to convince Arteta to drop Lacazette for him ?
I think what he’s implying is that Odegaard is capable of being the attacking midfielder — the goal scoring kind. We just haven’t seen it enough yet as the manager is running with a formation and style that works. Odegaard will get his chances, and I like that he looks eager to score.
Ah I see, well it is possible, he has the technical ability. Admittedly I was a bit cautious about bringing him back from his loan in the first place, even though the deal was too good to pass up, because of his lack of directness and physicality. That seems to have been borne out with Arteta dropping him for Lacazette, but I agree that he will get his chance to impress again.
It certainly casts Arsenal’s decision to fire its scouting network in a new light. For years we have recruited underwhelmingly and it shows in our league table decline. Scouts have to take their share of the blame for that. Koscielny, Cazorla and Giroud were decent additions but overall from 2010 – 2020 the return is pretty dismal compared to 2000 – 2010.
Scouts have to take their share of the blame for that Fair point. Though, it’s often overlooked that firing the scouting staff effectively killed any internal competition for Raul and Edu. That’s a typical workplace politics move. There were some members of that scouting team, like Francis Cagigao, who have a better track record with recruitment. I believe Cagigao was being considered for the Technical Director job before Edu got the role. Someone (like Cagigao) who has spent two decades in recruitment, building contacts in Southern Europe and South America is objectively more qualified than Edu (a national team coordinator)… Read more »
Prakar, we do have a very likeable bunch of new recruits but I think it’s best to wait until the end of the season before calling every acquisition a success. At least till after Christmas at the earliest.
I remember when we judged prematurely on Lacazette and Mustafi when they first signed. “Finally a world-class striker” and “Centre-back sorted for the next decade” were some of the phrases being used back then.
Lacazette scored on his league debut and had scored 6 goals by Matchday 11. Then we discovered he had stamina issues and then his 8 game goal-drought happened. The club was already looking for a new forward by January.
Likewise, Mustafi didn’t lose a match in his first 18 league games. Then he had a hamstring injury,
Probably best to not count the chickens before they hatch.
You are correct to say we must wait. But something in the personalities of these guys let’s me feel safe in this premature assessment.
To be honest, this doesn’t come as a surprise. From what we’ve already seen, he seems like a true gem. He needs to bulk up a bit which will happen, and he needs to try and contribute more in going for goal. Kompany already said this when referring to his finishing. I hope we don’t overplay him at this point though. Partey’s recurrent injuries means he gets more playing time but he also needs to rest and play (and learn) alongside Partey. All in all though, we really have a star in the making.
I remember when we got interested in this kid and Kompany was praising him then. I watched a tonne of video on him, more than I would with most players because the more I watched the intrigued I became. He has it all, that is why the Yaya comparisons are not out of place. It’s weird seeing people always angling for someone else to come into the team ahead of him (AMN or bringing back Xhaka or even Ben White – see the recent Saliba article). The kid has been outstanding. He’s barely misplaced a step out there and the… Read more »
I think he’s outshone Partey this season when they’ve both played. Which says a hell of a lot given the points they’re at in their respective careers.
Partey has been mostly brilliant too though. I think people judge Partey way too much on his wayward shooting. If you watch what he does off ball in both attack and defense you realise what a special player Partey is (and that is ignoring the fact that on ball he can completely turn the tempo of an attack in the blink of an eye).
I agree, but I also think he has probably one or two really shocking passes per game- passes that with a less solid back five behind him may cost us.
Which is a big ‘may’ as ultimately they didn’t, but he seems to have a slight tendency toward concentration lapses with those short passes in the middle.
Perhaps I’m being unfair and I just hold him to higher standards than the others given what I know/ think he’s capable of- I still think he’s fucking fantastic. Great partnership I reckon the two of them will forge.
You are missing the point Daveo , Xhaka is our best midfielder 😜😂
At the moment my worry is that he seems a little slow on the ball and susceptible to being dispossessed in very dangerous places. Im not sure about his pace also….. But looks like he’s going to be a superb player once he matures
To be fair, those incidents of getting knocked off the ball came in his first couple of games. Since then his confidence has grown and you can see he makes those plays faster now. In a year or two if he can add to his physical presence, he could easily become the next yaya or viera.
It seems like this happens to pretty much every young player from a European league when they come to England. Two reasons: Prem players generally give you much less time on the ball and referees allow contact that would be whistled down in Spain or Italy. For most, half a season, at least, to fully adjust, but then it’s usually not an issue.
Exactly mate. It happens to most young players coming to England. Maybe 1 in a 100 lands on their feet, but it’s even more challenging in midfield than let’s say strikers who are supposed to make the most of minimum touches on the ball.
That was once against CP and it seemed to give him a kick up the arse, he was superb in the next game…..
Wait, wait, wait…Sambi seems a little slow on the ball?? Ummm… Sambi looks like Usain Bolt in terms of both speed on the ball and across the turf compared to the guy he’s replaced. In fact, I’d stay his speed on ball, ability to turn and also pick passes is absolutely one of his strengths.
Black Yaya Touré?
What are you saying?
I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere. Can’t figure it out myself though
Like really? Ffs.
Just don’t forget his birthday and make sure we get him a cake with the right amount of candles!
I’d forgotten about that, brilliant!
I feel left out, I don’t get the reference! Can someone fill me in?
Yaya threw a fit and threatened to leave City once when they apparently forgot to celebrate his birthday with a cake.
Stranger than fiction! Thanks for telling me!
Sambi has gone a little under the radar but for me he’s been every bit as impressive as our other signings bar Ramsdale. Very composed on the ball, positive with his passing and intelligent positionally. The kind of player that would sign for Southampton or Brighton and we’d all be saying “that boy can play, why didn’t we sign him??”.
“The kind of player that would sign for Southampton or Brighton and we’d all be saying “that boy can play, why didn’t we sign him??”.” This, right here! This is the type of signing I’ve been wanting us to do for years and it looks like we nabbed a beauty. You could throw Tomi and Ramsdale into that too. The price was only a worry with Rammers because we mostly assumed he would be a backup, but at a first choice with the quality and leadership he’s showing its a steal. But ‘Konga is the perfect example. We skipped the… Read more »
Sambi…. extremely competent in possession,glides like saka sometimes I mix them up on the pitch …he’s fearless and always up for it …kudos to him..we’ve hardly noticed the absence of xhaka…for a 20year old to do that in his first season in England… breathtaking!
Wait, are you mixing him up with Saka right now? One of them is 20, the other 22.
I find myself mixing up MO and ESR sometimes on the pitch as they weave across the pitch and take up each other’s positions – but I look at their socks and then I know!
Off: 3 Arsenal youngsters in England’s starting line-up.
Smith-Rowe, Saka, Ramsdale.
This is simply amazing.
Ramsdale with a clean sheet, Saka and Smith-Rowe with goals. Soon we’ll have White starting for England as well, and maybe Balogun not too long after.
Maybe AMN through the middle some day too!
Keep him on the bench so he’s fresh for the inevitable penalty shootout.
Did I imagine it or did Yaya play a preseason match for us at somewhere like Barnet?
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Though not sure that anything happened, apart from three Arsenal players playing (two scoring and one keeping his sheets clean) in the biggest win for England since 1964…