Arsenal have completed the signing of Albert Lokonga from Anderlecht for £18 million ($25m).
The Gunners have seen off reported competition from clubs in Italy to land the 21-year-old, who has committed to a long-term contract at Emirates Stadium, believed to be a five-year deal.
Lokonga will join up with his new Arsenal team-mates ahead of their pre-season trip to Florida latest this week with a view to forcing his way into Mikel Arteta’s starting XI. He will wear No 23 with the name ‘Sambi’ on the back.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta told the club website: “Albert is a very intelligent player who has shown great maturity in his performances during his development. 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 on Anderlecht in recent seasons. We’re confident Albert’s ready for the next stage in his development and we’re looking forward to welcoming a new member to our squad with his quality and presence.”
Lokonga will give Arteta a much-needed extra option in the middle of the park following Matteo Gunedouzi’s move to Marseille and Dani Ceballos’ return to Real Madrid, with Granit Xhaka also close to an exit as Roma reportedly put the finishing touches to a deal for the Swiss international.
Arsenal’s latest signing may still have to bide his time for opportunities though, given the fact he naturally operates in the holding midfield role currently occupied by Thomas Partey.
Lokonga does also have the versatility to play on the right or in a more traditional central role, but the Gunners see the Belgian as a long-term prospect and will allow him plenty of time to adjust to his new surroundings in the Premier League.