Mikel Arteta is close to completing his first summer signing with Albert Sambi Lokonga on the horizon.

Albert Sambi Lokonga pictured during a soccer game between RSC Anderlecht and KRC Racing Genk, Sunday 14 March 2021 in Brussels, in the semifinals of the Croky Cup Belgian cup. VIRGINIE LEFOUR
Albert Sambi Lokonga pictured during a soccer game between RSC Anderlecht and KRC Racing Genk, Sunday 14 March 2021 in Brussels, in the semifinals of the Croky Cup Belgian cup. VIRGINIE LEFOUR

Following the completion of his loan term from Real Madrid, the Anderlecht playmaker is expected to step in to fill the void left by Martin Odegaard. After choosing the Gunners over Atalanta, the 21-year-old allegedly agreed to personal terms over a week ago. Since then, the teams have been negotiating a transfer fee, with an agreement likely to happen soon.

If they can tie up the young midfielder, it would undoubtedly shorten the Gunners football odds of winning some silverware. According to transfer journalist Fabrizio Romano, the Belgian club has a bid of £17 million on the table. Arsenal offered roughly £4 million in add-ons, with talks regarding Lokonga’s sell-on price still ongoing.

Anderlecht is thought to be resigned to losing their best player, with little expectation of seeing him for pre-season training. However, this summer, Lokonga could be one of many new additions to the Emirates. Nuno Tavares of Benfica is another big target, with a £15 million transfer apparently close to completion. Renato Sanches, a fellow Portuguese player, has also been mentioned, as has Juventus defender Merih Demiral.

Following the departure of Dani Ceballos, Mikel Arteta is anxious to add to his central midfield options this summer. At the same time, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira, who spent last season on loan at Atletico Madrid, are both set to move.

Many consider him to be one of the brightest talents to have emerged from Anderlecht’s famed academy in recent years and a player who has the potential to shape Belgian football’s future for the next decade. Manchester City’s great Vincent Kompany, like Lokonga, rose through the ranks at Anderlecht and is now the club’s head coach. Kompany, one of the best Premier League defenders and captains of all time, has played a vital role in Lokonga’s growth. If his verdict is any indication, Arsenal will be getting a fantastic acquisition.

He sticks out for me because of his qualities at his age, Kompany stated. “Will Sambi be victorious in his duels? Is he getting better at defending? As a coach, you ask yourself these questions. I’ve seen him make a lot of improvement in that area, to be sure. Lokonga could have a chance to represent Belgium at Euro 2020,” says Kompany – who projected a significant move in the summer. Sambi may perhaps be selected for the national team for the European Championship. It would provide him with a long-term chance to secure a top move – ideally not too soon, he added.

Lokonga was only selected for the preliminary Belgium squad before being removed from the final roster. He has yet to play for his country at senior level, but a debut, as well as the transfer Kompany mentions, could be on the cards. Lokonga has already led the senior Anderlecht side at the age of 21, and with Arsenal in need of a defensive midfielder, the Belgian ace may be an excellent purchase.

Sambi Lokonga is of Congolese heritage and was born in Belgium; his brother Paul-José M’Poku is also a professional footballer. On November 10, 2017, Sambi Lokonga signed his first professional deal with R.S.C. Anderlecht. On December 22, 2017, he made his professional debut for Anderlecht in a 1–0 Belgian First Division A win over KAS. Eupen.

Arsenal endured their worst Premier League season in decades and will need to improve in the coming season. In areas where the squad has suffered this season, new and better players will have to be acquired. Mikel Arteta and his technical staff should make signing a playmaker their priority. Unfortunately, Arsenal could not identify a suitable successor for Mesut Ozil, and the season began without a known attacking midfielder. This is why the club has struggled to create chances in the final third. Martin Odegaard was signed on a season-long loan in January, but he will not be returning. Smith-Rowe has done an excellent job in that role, but he can’t do it all by himself.

They also require the signing of a technically gifted winger who can play on both flanks. Willian was brought in to do just that, but he has disappointed and should be sold. A capable winger who can relieve the pressure on Bukayo Saka is desperately needed.

Since Mikel Arteta took over at Arsenal, there have been some encouraging signals. Winning the FA Cup and the Community Shield in his first year as manager were significant accomplishments. The Spaniard has emphasised youth, with youngsters like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe flourishing under his tutelage. The Gunners have also purged their team of deadwood, including Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

Arsenal reminds me of Manchester United a year ago. You can see Arteta is trying to bring the club back to its roots instilled by Arsene Wenger, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did following the blueprint set by Sir Alex Ferguson. It will take time for Arteta to get Arsenal back, challenging for the title, but if he is given that time, Arsenal could get back to their glory days.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.