Anderlecht sporting director Peter Verbeke is confident Arsenal have signed young midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga well and expect him to become one of the club’s leaders in the Premier League.
Lokonga was confirmed as an Arsenal player on Monday, joining Nuno Tavares as a newcomer to start what could be a busy transfer summer for the Premier League club.
The 21-year-old had spent his entire career so far with Anderlecht and Verbeke, who arrived at the club in March 2020, has seen a lot of progress in him during the time they have worked together, speaking positively of the way of which he had become a player. chef at such a young age.
Talk to Sky Sports News Chief reporter Bryan Swanson, Verbeke said: “Sambi is of course a very good player. He is one of the best talents coming from our academy. He can play as a defensive midfielder, he can play as a as a box-to-box player and, especially the last two seasons at the club, he has developed very well.
“He’s someone who’s good with the ball, his technical skills in tight spaces are really good. Good short passes, good long passes. He’s always been a late developer so it wasn’t until last season. that his physical development really took hold.
“It means that he now has the qualities to be able to collect more balls, that he is better in duels and that is why I think he could evolve into a defensive midfielder role for Arsenal in the years future.
“Of course he still has a few working points; he needs to get better box-to-box stats and needs to be a little harder in duels as a defensive midfielder, but he already has a lot well done last season and I expect him to do better next season.
“I think Arsenal made a good decision on him and I think he is going to be a top player for Arsenal in the years to come.”
Verbeke believes Lokonga could become the next Belgian player to impress in the Premier League, where he follows in the footsteps of some famous players, including his former Anderlecht head coach Vincent Kompany.
And for someone with less than 70 top-level games under their belt, Verbeke believes Lokonga’s leadership is something Arsenal could benefit from in the long run.
He added: “Sambi was the club’s captain – a very young Anderlecht of course – but he was still a captain and a natural leader on and off the pitch. I think he will fit in very well in the new one. club and because his technical ability is so good,
“I don’t think there will be any adjustment problems. Of course the Premier League is a higher level than the Belgian League, but the boys who were developed at Anderlecht like [Youri] Tielemans, and before that [Romelu] Lukaku, I think they all settled down well. They all got a good education in the academy and I expect Sambi to do the same.
“He’s a very nice guy, very laid back, but works very hard in training. He’s a leader but not in an arrogant way, more a natural leader on the pitch. When things don’t go so well. well, he chooses his responsibility, even though he’s only 21 years old.
“There is of course a step forward, and it’s not easy, but I’m pretty sure he will do well. I’m not sure exactly what Arsenal’s squad will look like for the season next – if they will do a lot more inbound hires – but I think Sambi has all the technical and physical qualities to have a direct impact in the Premier League. “