I don’t really know who Albert Sambi Lokonga is, I have never watched a single minute of him play football, but I already know that he is the answer to our central midfield problems right now.
With Granit Xhaka on his way out of Arsenal imminently, there is a pressing need for us to go in a new direction and whilst Ruben Neves represents experienced Premier League quality and would be a sensible if not inspiring choice to replace him, I’m all in on a youngster from Anderlecht coming in and turning the Emirates upside down with his electric performances.
Of course I’m being a little flippant with my remarks and sprinkling a tad of sarcasm in there as a commentary on transfer rumours and the way in which football fans go all hipster on players from abroad like they know they’ll be a success, but actually this does feel like a sensible enough move. Anderlecht are probably not going to ask for the earth, we need to replace a couple of midfielders anyway, plus there’s the fact he’s at an age profile that means plenty of upside. And from a league in which we aren’t going to get stung by some astronomical price. Imagine if he was playing for a Lille or Lyon? You’d be talking £30million+ I reckon.
This sort of deal feels very old school Arsenal too. You remember the days where we’d pick up players like that for relatively low fees and they’d turn out to be good? Then we’d be able to crow that Kolo Toure cost less than a million and he turned out to be a world beater? Yeah, let’s go back to those days please and if this guy can be one of those you can pick up for a relatively decent fee (TransferMarket has him down at just under £11million) then it might be one worth a punt. We’re losing Guendouzi as the young star to put our hopes in – mainly because he’s an idiot – and Xhaka is off whilst Ceballos returns to Madrid, which means to me this feels like a decent player to fight for a spot alongside Partey. Perhaps that would still be Neves? It would make sense. He’s young, he has time on his side and he’ll be hungry. WhoScored has his style of play as a central midfield/defensive midfielder as very good with his passing and through balls, somebody who is strong in the interception and likes to take a few shots from distance. Sounds similar top Neves to me and if we’re looking at two players like that then it makes total sense to me.
Again, having already confessed that I haven’t watched him play, but a little YouTubing at least gives you some context and I was trying to watch a couple of videos to see what he looks like when he’s running. We’ve seen plenty of times over the last few year’s in which the likes of Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ceballos, etc, all get run through in the middle of the park. None of us want to see that again and so we’re looking for somebody to be in the middle of that pitch like Partey and not get bodied or get drift past as if they aren’t there. The videos are obviously of an inferior league in which it’s a little easier to beat a man, but watching him running with the ball at his feet and he at least looks to have a bit of pace. So if this actually is a guy we’re looking more seriously at, then I think I’d be ok with it. I want to get back to the days in which I’d never heard of a player, they rock up, then are brilliant. Like When Eduardo showed up and we were all like “who?”, then he turned out to be an absolute dynamite finisher. Let’s have some more of that please.
Of course if Edu is going to be moving quickly with those deals then he’s of course going to have to do it via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, because he’s currently in Portugal on holiday. I’ve seen a few people question that but I don’t really begrudge it too much, providing the job starts to get done sooner rather than later. I don’t want to be Captain Hindsight at the end of the summer and wonder why we’re leaving things to the last minute and if we are then I will probably be questioning the optics of him at least posting stuff on his social media platform. But as it stands there is a good two months before the start of the season so there is ages of time to get the right deals – in and out – sorted.
He will have to quarantine when he gets back to the UK though, which means he’ll DEFINITELY need use of the company Zoom account to conduct that business…
The other news which I hope is a bit more sensible Arsenal planning comes after Ajax ‘keeper Andre Onana had his doping ban confirmed and reduced to nine months, meaning he’ll be able to train with Ajax from September and play for them in November. The challenge Ajax have, however, is that his contract expires next summer and so with a year left on his deal and supposedly no noises of him renewing, this feels like one we should be all over like a rash. Leno has two years, we could get Onana in now for a cut price fee and slowly bed him in for the season after this, whilst finding a suitor for Leno. Get the deal done, Arsenal, this one feels like it could be well within our price range too.
The only down side would be that he’s off to the AFCON next January and that tournament takes place every two year’s, which means if we did sign him we’d also need a half decent number two to play in the periods in which he wouldn’t be at the club. If the Leno situation remains that the German stays at the club, however, then you’d have to say this probably takes care of itself. Onana would be able to play from November, would take a month or two to adjust, go off to the AFCON and then when he returns if we’re phasing Lenoi out, he can get more games towards the end of the season. Like I say – and many Arsenal fans to be fair – get it done.
And on that note let’s call it a day. It’s going to be cloudy but warm today in London and given I’m cooped up at home in my office I’m ok with that. Then it’s the start of the Euro’s so at least that’s something to distract us from the transfer gossip.
Catch you all tomorrow.