Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Confirmed: Albert Sambi Lokonga joins Crystal Palace on loan

In a somewhat surprising development, Arsenal have allowed Albert Sambi Lokonga to join Crystal Palace on loan until the end of the season.

The Belgian has not had a happy time this season, making just 2 starts in the Premier League, with 6 league appearances in total. He hasn’t figured in the Gunners’ title push since coming on as a substitute in the 3-1 North London derby win on October 1st, although he has played minutes in the Europa League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup.

Signed from Anderlecht for £17m last summer, the 23-year-old showed some signs of his talent in the early part of last season, but spending most of his time on the fringes of the team has clearly impacted his form and confidence.

This season he hasn’t demonstrated much in the way of development, and at the end of the 1-0 defeat to Man City in the FA Cup, he appeared unhappy as he went down the tunnel without any acknowledgement of the travelling fans.

Nevertheless, as Arsenal rushed to get a deal for Chelsea’s Jorginho sorted to provide depth due to an injury sustained by Mohamed Elneny, it’s a little strange that they have allowed Lokonga to depart.

Mikel Arteta may well see players like Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira as ready to cover the ‘left 8’ position in midfield, with the Italian international providing cover for Thomas Partey at the base.

Having signed for the club, Lokonga said: “I’m really excited – I can’t wait to get started. I’m really happy to join Crystal Palace. I want to go as far as possible with the team. I will try to push for me and the team to do the maximum to reach the top.”

Best of luck to him at Palace.

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Very strange indeed.


Good luck Sambi. Follow the examples of Saliba in Marseille and Balogun in Reims, you’ll come back here stronger


Indeed. Learning from one of, if not the greatest midfielder in Arsenal history. Best of luck Sambi, get that mojo back bro

Brady’s bunch

He’s gone to one of our own, he’ll be grand.


How so? It’s clear he’s not ready & if he’s ever going to be ready he needs regular game time.


Didn’t think this would happen either. Seemed that the potential injury to Partey, then the ElNeny long term was what set the search for a midfielder off, so I guess looked like we still needed cover from Lokonga even with one midfielder in. He does clearly need the game time though, and maybe Arteta sees Vieira, Smith Rowe as better cover for Xhaka, with Jorginho, possibly Kiwior and even Zinchenko as better cover for Partey. But, yes will be happy to see him get that much needed game time. Maybe his complaints and bit of disgruntled-ness is him knowing he… Read more »

Teryima Adi

The boy needs game time to improve. You don’t do that warming the bench.


Will he play regularly for Palace?

David Womble

I thought so too, but I guess it can only mean one thing: whatever happened injury-wise, Mikel did not see himself using Sambi in the League. As the blog says, that suggests if Partey AND Jorginho got injured, he would rather turn to someone else in the squad. I am guessing Zinchenko or White as a makeshift number 4, and Vieira or ESR as a makeshift LCM.


See what Viera can do with the lad. Good luck Sambi. Strange window this has been🤯


It reminds me of last January window allowing Ainsley to go out on loan when we were short of midfielders..

But I think this one is more of maintaining squad harmony as it seems Sambi is probably not too happy right now..


Doesn’t seem good enough to play for us in any position right now. Maybe that’s partly down to his frame of mind.

There is the squad harmony aspect as well

John C

I agree.

I just don’t think he’s really suited to the positional system we play with, i think he needs a bit more license to be effective, much like Taveres.

It doesn’t make him a bad player, just we’re playing a very specific way that requires very specific qualities.


Seems its maybe another area Arteta believes in Pep’s philosophy. Neither seem to tolerate having unhappy/disruptive players in the camp.
Fingers crossed Pep and Cancelo falling out will prove beneficial to us in the long run. Strikes me that they are taking a bigger gamble than us shipping out Lakonga.


I actually think he’s really talented. Just lost his way since Partey was injured and he was either played out of position as the lone 6 (a role Partey took time to get used to), or has been sat on the bench. Incredibly difficult to make any progress from there. Good luck Sambi, nobody better than big Paddy to sort you out.


Good luck Sambi, we’ll finally find out if you’re good enough – hope Patrick teaches you well.

Cranky Colin

A chance for Sambi to prove himself.


I have this sneeky feeling that this is it for him. He will have a decent showing that will convince Palace and other lower half of the table clubs to make offers for him. At that point, he will kick up a fuss and for the sake of “squad harmony” we will let him go.

I pray he does a Saliba but seriously doubt he will ever play for Arsenal in another competitive fixture.


Yes, I must admit that it does seem as if sending him to Palace is a case of trying to get him more opportunities to play regularly in a starting XI environment which will either see him return to us as a more rounded player or see his value rise so we can get a decent fee for him.


If he doesn’t play at all like AMN on Roma then he wouldn’t not be able to claim that he should play more for us.


Heck of a role-model to be learning from. Hopefully the great one sends him back levelled up a couple of notches!


I’m pleased with this. Sambi needs to learn the basics,


Couldn’t pick a better one

Man Manny

This could be the beginning of the end for Lokonga at Arsenal.
Crystal Palace is likely to spend the second half of the season looking behind their shoulders. Every point is going to be ground out; is Lokonga ready for the battle? I have my doubts, but I wish him well. My gut feeling, though, is that the loan won’t work well and we may decide to cut our losses in the summer.
Quite pessimistic outlook there.


I hope he does well enough to convince Palace to buy him, a bit like the Odegaard situation


Willock done it, brought in a decent fee

El Mintero

We won’t get buttons for sambi…just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid.


That’s what everyone said about Nketia this time last year


Looks happy in that photo, doesn’t he!


He’ll be learning from Paddy – of course he’s happy!

Emi Rates

All the best to him there. Hope he returns fully fledged after six months under Viera’s wing.

The Arsenal

Much needed. Surely will make or break the young man… Though i don’t see a future for him here. I think we will be back in for Rice/Caicedo….and if we win the league who is to say Arteta couldn’t sell Jude Bellingham an enticing dream.


Mo injured and Sambi out, Jorginho in. Didn’t we aim at having more cover for Partey?
TBH, it was not a good window to me. I’m not a fan of spending big, but we had plenty of time to do better. Looking at UTD makes me wonder how they did it in one day, and we cannot in months.


What did Utd do in one day that we didn’t. They brought in Sabitzer, we brought in Jorginho. Out of the two, I know which I prefer. The oven ready midfield cover


Well, it’s months we look for back up for Partey. And it’s a week we know Elneny is no longer available. Eriksen was injured right one day before deadline.


He seems so happy to get out of Arsenal. Look at his wide grin here 😀, in stark contrast to the unhappy and forlorn figure he showed at Man City. No point keeping an unhappy player.


Sambi could do worse than being coached by one of our greatest midfielders. Hope he becomes what he promised to be at Anderlecht.


Why do we think being coached by one of our best midfielders is better than being coached by one of our most astute midfielders who also happens to be by far the better coach?

Jesus of Sao Paulo

Paddy is obviously the more complete player than Mikel.
I’m afraid we might never know the better coach between them unless all circumstances eg financial backing and club stature (facilities, personnel under them, players etc) are constant. For now those factors favour Mikel.


I was half hoping we’d push for Declan Rice now and let West Ham have Lonkonga on loan


Just because they’re West Ham doesn’t mean they’re completely batshit insane.

Dennis Asiimwe


Hair on Ram's Tail

Seems to leave us a little thin in midfield, but we do have less fixture congestion to worry about since we are out of the FA Cup now.
Hopefully our 3 veterans will be able to stay healthy and succeed in the league and Europe.

Merlin’s Panini

I wondered if he was offered as a makeweight for Caicedo.
Whilst it leaves us a little light in midfield Zinchenko can also play there so I’m not too concerned by this.
Also having Vieira as his mentor, with regular playing time, could be just what he needs to properly adapt to the league.


This season hasn’t gone to plan for him but this is a massive opportunity to kick on, hopefully he can make the most of it!


This might be best for all parties. We get an unhappy player out of the camp (and presumably some or all of his wages), and he gets the opportunity to show what he’s capable of without the pressure of trying to win a league title or push for Champions League spots. If he does well we may recoup some of his fee and he might find happiness and confidence at a club that better suits his current level.


Does it mean Sambi doesn’t get a medal at the end of the season??


Theres a minimum number of minutes and he probably hasn’t played enough.


Hopefully he gets a ton of minutes at palace.

Unhappy or not, Eddie told him last season to get in line lol

karl g

Sambi has not looked great playing a bit part and needs regular football to see if he is up to the Premier League. Great move for all.


when you need bodies in midfield and send someone on loan, only to replace him in the squad with a 31 year old… hope sambi does well for palace and can get himself a move somewhere in the summer, because this looks like he’s been cast off

El Mintero

He’s been fucking shit and we now have a proven international as partey’s back-up, so why are you complaining Lokonga shouldn’t leave? Having him start makes us weaker. Doh!


What are you adding here by trying to run me down with this reply? Why bother replying at all

El Mintero

I’m adding some basic common sense in response to your “take”.


What’s the obsession with Jorginho’s age? He is a year older than Partey, he just turned 31. He could be playing top flight football for another 5 years. Weird.


Couldn’t have anything to do with some very public statements made by edu regarding the age and resale values of players now could it?

Teryima Adi

We have Kiwior, Zinchenko and White as utility players in that position should Partey and Jorginhno be injured. Relax 😄


Does anyone know if Lokonga can be recalled if the need arises?


Not sure, but that’s highly unlikely for these types of loans. Unless he were to have a season ending injury or something crazy like that (hopefully not of course).

Teryima Adi

Here’s wishing you all the best, Sambi. Come back stronger and prove us all wrong about your talent.


Despite the fact that he hasn’t shown it recently, I can’t shake the feeling that he is going to be an excellent midfielder in a couple of years. I may well be wrong but a loan is clearly for the best. ESR to provide cover there makes sense.


He’s not a DM, he doesn’t sense the danger. He’s much better going forward. There is a player in there, but not the one we need right now.
Good luck at Palace.

The Iceman

Fantastic opportunity for sambi to show everyone what he is all about and if he has a long term future playing in the prem. You get the feeling he needs to be a key figure and always in the starting 11 to get the best out of him. We saw the impact getting dropped had on his whole personality in the all or northing doc. Palace are a decent side but cm is one of their weak spots… Lock down that place ahead of schullp or will Hughes, get some solid minutes and puts him in the shop window ahead… Read more »


I know we don’t know everything thats going on, but you really have to queation the mentality of a player that doesn’t take the chance he’s got by the scruff of the neck.

Potentially needed for the run in for a premier league season where we are going to the title. Maybe the manager said he is just not in his plans.


Somehow he needs to find a way to understand defense. Every player needs to defend these days but he lets that part of the game slide by

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