Albert Sambi Lokonga believes he ‘deserved’ his move to Arsenal despite Anderlecht wanting him to stay one more season.
Albert Sambi Lokonga is finally getting starts for Crystal Palace after issues with his fitness meant he was limited to appearances from the bench for the first few games of his loan.
Since then, he has earned the praise of Palace manager, Arsenal legend, Patrick Vieira.
Speaking to RTBF, Lokonga revealed that he couldn’t refuse a move to Arsenal when they came calling, but, he also showed a little of why he has struggled with his fringe role at the club.
“I wanted to leave [Anderlecht],” Lokonga said of the club he joined when he was six.
“I deserved it given my season. I wasn’t pushed out. The club was even open to me staying one more season, but, for my part, Arsenal were an offer that I couldn’t refuse, so I said it was better for me to leave.”
The comment of ‘I deserved it’ is a telling one.
During Arsenal’s Amazon Prime documentary, ‘All or Nothing’, there was one scene where Lokonga was in a huff because he wasn’t playing before Eddie Nketiah told him to get a grip of himself.
The difference in mentality between Nketiah and Lokonga in being left out of Arsenal's starting 11.
Accept tough times and be ready when youre chance comes.#TOTARS pic.twitter.com/cyfDckiiYm
— Younes AW (@younes_aw) January 15, 2023
‘Deserve’ plays little role in football.
Lokonga is believed to be keen to get another chance at Arsenal, but, for that to happen he will need to undergo an attitude shift, something I’m sure Mikel Arteta is hopeful Patrick Vieira can help with.
Lokonga began his youth career with Anderlecht, joining the club, as mentioned, at the age of six.
He made his professional debut for the club in 2017, and, over the next few seasons, he established himself as a regular in the Anderlecht squad. He played a total of 78 games for the club, scoring three goals and providing seven assists.
In July 2021, Lokonga joined Arsenal for a reported fee of €17.5 million. He made his debut for the club in August 2021, in a 2-0 win against Brentford in the Premier League.
Despite being a new arrival, Lokonga quickly established himself as an important member of the Arsenal squad, thanks to his technical ability, work rate, and composure on the ball as well as injuries in the team, but it was not to last as he showed issues with his focus when he dropped to the bench and, as we see above, his attitude was also a bit of a problem.
In January 2022, Lokonga was loaned out to Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season to gain more playing time but it will be his attitude Arteta and co. are watching because it seems like that could be the only thing stopping him from fulfilling his potential.