View: What is Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga's ceiling?
Arsenal youngster Albert Sambi Lokonga is about to embark on his sophomore season in North London – but what is the Belgian midfielder’s ceiling?
Lokonga joined Arsenal last summer for a reported £17.2million from Anderlecht [BBC Sport] with huge recommendations from then-manager, Vincent Kompany.
Hundreds of Arsenal fans have on Wedndesday (6 July) been tweeting about the Belgian’s potential, and how he can be best utilised in manager Mikel Arteta’s team going forward.
Lokonga joined Arsenal after making 78 appearances for Anderlecht and nine appearances for Belgium youth teams before featuring for the senior team on (2 September.)
In his debut season for the Gunners, Lokonga made 24 appearances for Arteta’s team, deputising for Ghanian midfielder, Thomas Partey in central midfield but ultimately failing to solidify a starting spot in the team.
He was deployed in deep-lying midfield roles and further up the pitch as an advanced number eight, however the clear consensus on Twitter was that Lokonga is best deployed in a deep-lying lone six role, similar to how Arteta currently players Partey.
Lokonga had a good start to life at Arsenal, featuring in many of their opening games in Partey’s absence and impressing, notably in home victories against Watford, Newcastle and Norwich.
He was applauded for his progressive ball-carrying nature, his eye for a pass and his energy around the pitch.
He was out of the team for a long time with Partey and Granit Xhaka forming a solid partnership in midfield and keeping the Belgian out of the team.
Lokonga returned at the end of the season after Partey suffered a season-ending injury but unfortunately was not able to replicate his early-season form and found himself out of the team replaced by Egyptian midfielder, Mohamed Elneny.
The Belgian international clearly has talent and a skillset that could make him into a powerful and useful midfield enforcer.
The ability to cover huge amounts of ground, be press-resistant and launch attacks with explosive runs or pin-point through balls into offensive teammates.
Entering his sophomore season at the Emirates, eyes will be on Lokonga to make strides to reaching potential especially with it being reported the Gunners are against a loan deal for the 22-year-old.
With the return of European football, there should be more of an opportunity for the former Anderlecht midfielder to stamp his authority on the first team and state a claim for a starting spot.
In other news, Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey has completed his nationality switch from England to Ghana.