Thomas Partey could have big say in Albert Sambi Lokonga’s Arsenal role under Mikel Arteta

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Arsenal’s squad is beginning to take shape following Albert Sambi Lokonga’s arrival from Anderlecht but there are still many unanswered questions.

Lokonga became the Gunners’ second summer signing following Nuno Tavares, joining the club for a reported fee of around £17million.

The 21-year-old midfielder arrives with an intriguing status: he’s not quite a completely unestablished young talent, nor a clear immediate first-team starter.

Arsenal ’s pre-season trip to the US to play in the Florida Cup will be hugely important to Lokonga.

While Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff know his capabilities, having pushed for his signing, they are yet to see what he can do up close.

Partey will play a crucial role in deciding Lokonga's role at Arsenal
(Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

How he performs in pre-season could go a long way to shaping his role in the 2021/22 campaign. The quotes following his arrival provide a hint at the current thinking.

Although both Arteta and technical director Edu spoke of his qualities, they also mention Arsenal as being the next stage of his “development”. That could be a way of trying to reduce pressure on their latest signing, but it could also be a nod to their remaining intentions in the transfer market.

Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard have already returned to their parent club Real Madrid, while Matteo Guendouzi has been sent on loan to Marseille.

With Granit Xhaka expected to join Roma and Lucas Torreira up for sale – not to mention doubts surrounding Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson – Arsenal could clearly do with more bodies in central midfield.

What sort of a role do you think Lokonga will play for Arsenal next season? Have your say in the comments section below.

Lokonga has already taken part in Arsenal training
(Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Thomas Partey was signed for £45m last summer and another high-profile signing could slot in alongside the Ghana international next season.

Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli, Brighton ’s Yves Bissouma and Wolves ’ Ruben Neves have all been linked with Arsenal this summer – and one of them could yet arrive at the Emirates.

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None of those players have been signed yet though, meaning Lokonga has plenty of time to impress before any more arrivals come.

Goal reports that Lokonga could have a ‘significant part’ to play in his debut campaign, especially given Partey and Mohamed Elneny’s involvement at the Africa Cup of Nations halfway through the season.

Lokonga will wear the No 23 shirt for Arsenal next season
(Image: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

With Xhaka potentially leaving, Partey looks set to take up the role as the most experienced and established central midfielder in Arteta’s squad.

Lokonga could grab the chance to be his partner at the base of midfield. Despite his youth, Lokonga made 33 appearances in the Belgian top flight last season, contributing three goals and two assists.

Anderlecht boss Vincent Kompany handed him the captaincy briefly in 2020/21 and he was on standby for Roberto Martinez’s Belgium squad at Euro 2020. All the signs point to a player already performing beyond his age.

“Albert is a very intelligent player who has shown great maturity in his performances during his development,” Arteta said.

“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.”

If Lokonga can make the same positive impact on Partey then he could line up a significant role under Arteta in the upcoming campaign.

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