Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Albert Sambi Lokonga is ‘disappointed’ at the prospect of missing out on the Champions League but a summer departure from Arsenal remains ‘out of the question’, the youngster’s brother and agent Paul-Jose M’Poku tells RTBF

As Lokonga’s elder sibling is at pains to point out, the former Anderlecht captain would have snapped your hand off if you offered him 18 Premier League appearances during his debut season at the Emirates Stadium. 

Lokonga has found game time hard to come by after Christmas, starting to just two of Arsenal’s last 16 league matches.

But it should not be forgotten that he is just 22 years of age. Lokonga brought in with an eye on the future, as well as the present, with the vastly experienced Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny all ahead of him in Mikel Arteta’s pecking order. 

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“We don’t worry,” says M’Poku, pointing out that compatriots Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku also endured a slow start to their English football careers. 

“The difference with the Belgian league is big, and Arsenal are not a mid-table club. We would have signed with both hands for a first season with 33 per cent of playing time. And Albert is progressing every day, thanks to the training sessions. 

“The competition is tough, with Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny, and the coach has to respect a certain hierarchy. This season, the rotation has been very difficult because Arsenal only play only one game a week on average.” 

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M’Poku does wonder whether Lokonga could improve on the training pitch, with the disciplinarian Arteta famously demanding when it comes to work-ethic.

As things stand, however, a summer departure – either on loan or on a permanent basis – is not under consideration. 

Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

And with Arsenal set to seal their return to continental competition – albeit most likely with the Europa League rather than the Champions League – there should be plenty of opportunities for Lokonga to stake his claim in 2022/23. 

“He has so much talent. Sometimes it seems so easy for him, that maybe the coach expects more?” M’Poku muses. “He should not rely on his ability. And maybe he should prove himself more in training. But I don’t worry, and neither does he. 

“(An Emirates exit) out of the question. He is very well integrated at the club and in the city. He is happy, even if he hopes to play more next season. 

“I spoke to him on the phone on Monday. He was disappointed because with the defeat at Newcastle. The Champions League has moved away, but there will be the Europa League and he is positive about his season.” 

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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