Thursday, June 20, 2024

Lokonga eyes move that promises regular game time

Sambi Lokonga has confirmed he will look to leave Arsenal in some capacity this summer after struggling for game time since his move from Anderlecht two years ago.

Making an appearance on the YouTube channel of former South Korea international Wonhee Cho, Lokonga was asked about his future.

“I don’t know, I will try to go somewhere I will play,” he said.

“That’s the most important thing, to have some games and play game after game.”

Earlier this summer, Lokonga, who reported for pre-season training yesterday, was linked with a move for Sevilla and rumours persist about a link-up with his former coach Vincent Kompany at newly-promoted Burnley. 

There were high hopes the Belgium international would challenge Thomas Partey for a starting berth when he was landed for £17 million but he never looked convincing in a deep-lying role.

Mikel Arteta used him sparingly in the second half of his debut campaign and when he did start matches, it didn’t help that Arsenal failed to beat the likes of Burnley, Brighton and Southampton.

Last season, he started all six of Arsenal’s Europa League matches but featured for only 195 minutes in the Premier League before the break for the World Cup.

By that point, conversations about a loan move were already in progress and on deadline day in January he joined Patrick Vieira’s struggling Crystal Palace.

Lokonga was thrust into the team but Palace won only once in 11 games and by the time Vieira was sacked, the midfielder was again reduced to a place on the bench.

After taking over at Selhurst Park, Roy Hodgson turned to more experienced heads and Lokonga played just 65 minutes as the team’s form recovered. As loan moves go, it was a disaster for him on a personal level.

At this point, it’s hard to envisage Lokonga winning over Mikel Arteta and recovering his Arsenal career so for all involved a permanent move would probably be for the best. At the same time, he’s under contract until 2026 so a loan is also viable.

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Anders Limpar

He’s a real conundrum. Clearly there is promise but it feels like we didn’t manage him very well and tried to rush him into the first team when he clearly wasn’t ready and the team in general were under performing.

Having said that some of his performances were pretty bad and he didn’t do much at Palace either. Loan with an option, or a permanent transfer with sell on,maybe by back clauses, seems the only way forward.


I agree his failure has come as a surprise to me but I don’t think we mismanaged him. He’s just yet another example that the PL is another kettle of fish to Other leagues and that a good youngster does not necessarily grow into a good mature player.

Johnny 4 Hats

I actually think we remember his game time in more of a negative light than was reality.

Yes, he wasn’t dynamic enough to break the lines but he was a 20 year old doing a job that took a £45m CM a year to master.

I haven’t given up on sambi. I can see a future where he has an outstanding loan and comes back to fight for a place.


I disagree. We got rid of Guendouzi who at the same age was bringing dynamic performances in the midfield. We took a chance on a young player with Sambi, it won’t always work out.

A Different George

I think Guendouzi’s departure had very little to do with the quality of his performances.


0G, 1A, 55% duel win rate and 42% aerial duel win rate in 56 matches certainly doesn’t scream “dynamic”.

Anders Limpar

It feels like he was thrown in the deep end in fairly difficult circumstances, then farmed out on loan when he didn’t live up to expectations.

I’m 100% sure that the club fully supported him as they do all the players and managed him entirely correctly. It just doesn’t look great from the outside, in my humble (and often wrong) opinion.

Funsho Patrick

Conondrum? Naaa….he’s much older than Jude Bellingham…. couldn’t give what he didn’t have…injuries to elneny and partey plus his loan move…. didn’t take his chances…. not sure he’ll play football at the top .. Declan rice is just marginally older than he is…

Anders Limpar

I mean if you are comparing all midfielders to Bellingham then the bar is pretty damn high lol

Greg in Seattle

I think we are comparing him at this point to starting – or even squad – midfielders on the Big 6 clubs. I don’t think he’s shown enough to think he would stick in a role with any of them. Similar to AMN, he can find his level somewhere.

John C

He excels neither defensively nor offensively and therefore i just don’t see where he fits in our team.

I’m sure in the right set up he could be a decent player but as our team has evolved into very clear defensive and attacking units he doesn’t have a future in this team.

Best to sell in my opinion


The problem is what would we get for him? Based on what he’s done for us and for Palace his stock has got to be about as low as it’s likely to get. If we can’t get at least half of what we paid back, I suspect we’re going to throw the dice that we can get a more successful loan out of him and sell next summer. That’s clearly worked out poorly in the past, but given where he’s at now I think we’ll probably have to go down that route.

John C

Do we get more for him with 2/3 years left on his contract after a poor loan or 1/2 years left after a good one? My guess is it doesn’t really matter.

Cannon and ball and arsen’all

Agreed. I had high hopes for Sambi when he arrived, but looks like he’s more of a traditional 8, and we won’t be playing a system that accommodates a traditional 8 (our 8s will all be traditional 10s in Ode/Vieira on the right and Havertz/ESR on the left). Sambi doesn’t look like he can cut it at 6 where we’ll have Rice/Jorg/Elneny, so best to move him on


He tries. I give him that.


Not sure I’d give him credit just for trying. I always find it much more noteworthy when footballers don’t try considering they get paid to, and their career kind of depends on them trying.


Same can be said of anyone in any capacity for any activity. What you’ve said here isn’t a revelation about footballers (or any worker).


That is the risk that you take.
A player may excel in the Belgian league but struggle in the more competitive Premiership.
Does not mean he is a bad player – he just didn’t work out.
I wish him luck in his next move.


Either get our money back with a sale or loan him again. Still has 3 years left so no rush

Forest gooner

Common Kompany, what are you waiting for?


Seems like someone who has the talent but might just be missing the mental component, like the ability to perform with composure in high pressure situations, or the mental toughness to keep at it when things get rough. Feels like Vieira might have the same issue, though I’m still holding out hope that for him it was just the physical component that’s missing and maybe he just needs to work hard in the gym and get stronger and better conditioned so that he can apply himself more. Like Sambi I think 2 seasons is more or less the window he… Read more »

Greg in Seattle

IIRC in the All or Nothing doc he made a low key comment about not playing, during a stretch when the team was having some success. Not sure why it rubbed me the wrong way, but my takeaway was that here was a guy who wasn’t forcing Arteta to pencil his name in with his performances, and stewing about it, while over here you have someone like Elneny bleeding for the badge and Martinelli forcing his way into the conversation. Didn’t show well for me. I actually like Tavares better than Sambi, upside-wise, if that says anything.


He definitely has talent and may excel in a few years but we don’t have that kind of time to give him as a starter (which he needs). Talks a bit too much without a huge amount to back it up for my liking (like Balagun). Probably time to go.


Agree with all you said .. except the (like Balagun) – because Balagun has done well, whereas Sambi has not.
Maybe they both leave, but for very different money and expectations.


Yeh there is obviously a difference between them but Bala also talks too much for someone who has had one good loan season in a weak league.

El Mintero

How do you know he definitely has talent?!


The second half of the season especially he just played well within himself.

He needs to go somewhere to build up his personality as a footballer.

You could see how the other players were trying to get him into the game but he just didn’t make the necessary movement to aid the buildup play. At times it seemed we were half a man down. And then came the cosntant hollywood vertical balls.

Perhaps positional play doesn’t suit him.


Hopefully he goes on to make 50 appearance somewhere else and we will look to him as an option for the buy back clause.


Loan to burnley with an obligation to purchase.

At this point, it’s quite difficult not to wonder while anyone at the top felt it was a good idea to have signed him in the first place. A real head scratcher, this one.


Relatively cheap punt on a talked up young talent who was doing well at the time and can play the 6 or 8 role as back up to an injury prone TP. Made sense to me.

Merlin’s Panini

Given he wasn’t great for Palace another Premier League move may not happen. Perhaps a loan to France would suit him better.


Everyone looks good in France😜


Been on vacation mostly for a couple weeks. Comment on transfers out. Balogun looked amazing for the USMNT. In two games I didn’t see a single error. Made the right run every time.
Coaches look at it differently than fans but I would hate to see him go.

A Different George

Were they playing St. Kitts? Easier not to make errors than against Liverpool.

Dr. Gooner

I think there is a possible role for him on the left as Martinelli’s understudy. They are both quick players who are really strikers, not wingers. That’s also a position where we look for outlet runs into space, which is exactly how he bagged many of those goals at Reims, so that should suit Flo. That’s where I would play him. But chances are the club is looking at his transfer value and it’s not going to be any higher anytime soon, not at Arsenal anyway where he won’t start most games. With all the expenditure elsewhere, they will probably… Read more »

Dr. Gooner

Sambi is in a similar category as Nuno: Arsenal bought these players because there was a massive hole in the squad at the position, the price was good and they showed enough potential. These were short term moves. I don’t think anyone at the club seriously thought either player was going to be a long term contributor. I believe the objective was to have them play as alternates in fairly meaningless matches while the business end of the squad was formed up, and hopefully they develop and we make a profit on them. Of the two, Sambi was the more… Read more »

Dr. Gooner

I say these were short term solutions only because the tactical fit wasn’t there for either player from the start. Arteta is really big on buying specific talent to fill a specific role. When Arsenal have spent starter level money, it has been on a player with impeccable intangibles and perfect suitability for the envisioned role. That was not the case for Sambi or Nuno. I already discussed Nuno at length the other day. If Sambi was going to be a like for like with Thomas Partey, he should have had much more aggression and physicality about him at a… Read more »

Hale Storm

Sambi Lokonga
He had a good sideways pass
Often lost his man

Dr. Gooner

Didn’t know Lzzy Hale was an Arsenal fan!


No longer
A belonged.


Bloody typos…..


That time of Eddie telling him to stop complaining, basically summed it up for me.

Maybe let his transfer to Arsenal get to him and instead of keeping his head down and working hard, focused only on why he’s not playing every game cause he’s the best, etc.

Time for Kompany to take him back and throw some Rice money our way 😁

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