Belgian midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga has spoken out after his deadline-day loan move to Crystal Palace from Arsenal.
THE LOWDOWN: FAILED TO MAKE THE MARK
Signed from RSC Anderlecht in 2021, the 23-year-old has struggled to find regular game time in Mikel Arteta’s side. Coupled with this fact, the Gunners went and signed Jorginho from Chelsea on deadline day, further limiting his options to play for the club.
In search of that game time, he chose to move across London to Selhurst Park to gain some Premier League experience playing under Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira. It was a move that came as a surprise to many fans, but the Belgian midfielder has finally spoken out about his decision.
Speaking to Crystal Palace’s website in his first official interview, he cited his discussion with Vieira as the turning point. “It was not easy [to leave Arsenal] because as you can see they are top of the league, but for me the important thing was the confidence of the coach,” Lokonga told Palace’s website.
“I had him on the phone and it was a good opportunity to come here, to show myself and to help the boys reach their objectives.
“He said to me ‘welcome’. He is going to push me to be a better player – I am looking forward to it.”
Sources from within the South London club also claimed that Sambi Lokonga had been on their radar years before Arsenal had signed him and that Jorginho’s move gave them an opening to bring the player to Selhurst Park.
THE VERDICT: EXPECTED TO THRIVE IN NEW SURROUNDINGS
Sambi Lokonga is already looking forward to his first appearance for the Eagles after making 15 appearances in the Premier League this season for Arsenal (with only two starts). That third start could come against Manchester United on Saturday when Crystal Palace travels to Old Trafford.
Speaking on the possibility of starting that game and his general excitement to debut for Patrick Vieira’s side, the former Anderlecht man added: “I would like to gain some minutes – I want to go as far as possible with the team.
“II don’t want to say a number, but I will try to push me and the team to do the maximum to reach the top.
“I don’t want to speak about ranking; I just think we need to take it game by game. Try to win each game and that is how we will do something great.
“Today I have been a lot in the car moving from left to right, but I’m fully fit – I am ready to start if needed on Saturday in the game [against Manchester United].”