Arsenal transfer news: Watts delivers verdict on Lokonga loan
Arsenal allowed Albert Sambi Lokonga to swap the Gunners for Crystal Palace on a deadline-day loan deal.
Goal.com Arsenal correspondent Charles Watts, speaking on his YouTube channel, admits the move was a “surprise”.
At the same time, he says there’s “absolutely no doubt” that Lokonga needed a loan move away from N5.
The 23-year-old had been struggling for game time at Arsenal this season.
Lokonga has started just two Premier League games for Mikel Arteta’s charges this term.
The Arsenal boss has usually gone for a midfield trio of Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard.
And with Jorginho joining from Chelsea, Lokonga would’ve slipped further down the pecking order.
The Belgian will now ply his trade across London, still in the Premier League.
He’ll also get the chance to learn from one of the best midfielders in Premier League history, Patrick Vieira.
“Sambi went, that was a surprise,” said Watts. “I didn’t start the day thinking somebody was going to go.
“I think it’s a really good move for him and I’m really intrigued to see how he gets on.
“Hope he develops really well under Patrick Vieira over the second half of the season.
“He needed a loan, there’s absolutely no doubt about it.
“He needed to get out, he needed to start playing, he needed to show if he was good enough to play regularly week and week out in the Premier League.
“How things were going at Arsenal, it wasn’t helping anyone, it wasn’t helping him, he wasn’t developing he was not playing.
“When he did play, he was coming in from the cold and, you know, it wasn’t helping.
“He needs regular game time to really start to develop as a young central midfielder.”
Lokonga will be learning from the best – TBR View
Lokonga joined Arsenal to considerable fanfare in 2021 after shining with Anderlecht, the club where he came through the ranks.
At just 21, he was already captaining the side on occasion, a big achievement for a player so young.
Things haven’t quite worked out for Lokonga just yet, but he’s still young and it looks like Arteta has faith in him.
Hopefully he’ll shine under the tutelage of Palace boss and Highbury legend Vieira.
You really couldn’t have asked for a better manager for a young midfielder on the books at Arsenal.
Then, Lokonga will hopefully return to Arsenal as a much-improved player and, who knows, might even do a Saliba.
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