Arsenal have confirmed the signing of midfielder, Albert Sambi Lokonga for an undisclosed fee from Anderlecht.
Lokonga joins Mikel Arteta’s Gunners on a long-term contract after rising through Anderlecht’s youth academy, from which he went on to score three goals in 69 appearances across all competitions for the Belgian club.
Speaking on the decision to depart Belgium to move across to England to play in the Premier League, Lokonga said: “Yeah, it’s a big step, but I feel confident because we have to. In the football world, you have to feel confident about yourself, but I’m looking to play in this league and I can’t wait to start the league.”
Lokonga also praised Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry for his influence as a coach of Belgium’s National Team after training under the Frenchman during March’s international window, commenting: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was really great. A great experience because in the few times I was with him on the pitch I learnt a lot, so it was a really great experience.”
When asked by arsenal.com on what type of player he is, Lokonga confirmed that he can play box-to-box or attacking depending on tactics.
With a three-word name, Lokonga also clarified that although his full name is Albert-Mboyo Sambi Lokonga, he wishes to be called Sambi by Arsenal fans as he is commonly called at Anderlecht and across Belgium.
Arsenal have confirmed that Lokonga will wear the no.23 shirt with Sambi emblazoned across the back.
Arteta meanwhile described Sambi as “a very intelligent player who has shown great maturity in his performances during his development.”
Having previously coached current Anderlecht manager – Vincent Kompany during their time together at Manchester City, Arteta praised the Belgian for his work with Sambi, commenting: “He has been coached well by Vincent Kompany and his team at Anderlecht.
“I know Vincent very well and he talks so highly about Albert and the positive impact he had to Anderlecht in recent seasons.”
Arsenal Technical Director, Edu also commented on Sambi’s arrival, saying: “We are delighted Albert has signed with us, as there was a lot of interest in him and he was a big target for us. Albert is a player we’ve been tracking for some time, and he will bring us strength in depth in the centre of midfield.”
Sambi is Arsenal’s second signing of the season after the club signed Nuno Tavares from Benfica earlier this month.