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…