Arsenal have competed the signing of Belgium Under-21 midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht.
The Premier League club announced Lokonga has signed a “long-term” contract and, although a fee was not disclosed by either club, the transfer is reported to be worth an initial £15million (€17.4m).
Lokonga, 21, is a product of the same Anderlecht youth system that oversaw the development of Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemens and Leander Dendoncker among others, and made 78 senior appearances for the Belgian Pro League outfit.
“It’s a big move because I’ve been playing for Anderlecht for 10 years,” he told Arsenal’s official website.
“It’s a big step but I feel confident because in the football world you have to feel confident about yourself.
“I’m looking forward to playing in this league and I can’t wait to start.
“My lawyer told me about the interest of Arsenal and I didn’t hesitate one second. I said, ‘Excuse me, I will go there’.”
Arsenal have already recruited another 21-year-old this close season, bringing in full-back Nuno Tavares from Benfica.
And links to Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Ben White suggest youth will continue to be a focus for head coach Mikel Arteta and director of football Edu.
Our newest family member pic.twitter.com/0TYRuF8ziJ
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 19, 2021
“We are delighted Albert has signed with us, as there was a lot of interest in him and he was a big target for us,” Edu said.
“Albert is a player we’ve been tracking for some time, and he will bring us strength in depth in the centre of midfield.”
Assessing those strengths himself, Lokonga said he enjoys playing as an all-action midfielder but has been told he is best used in a role in front of the defence.
“I know that they want to pay with a lot of young guys and Arsenal has a good academy,” he added.
“At Anderlecht we also had a good academy so, for me, it’s not going to change a lot.
“I can play as a six, I can play as a box-to-box. People say I’m better in the six position.”
Arsenal failed to qualify for Europe for the first time in 26 years last season and begin their 2021-22 Premier League campaign away to Premier League newcomers Brentford.
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