According to football.london, Albert Sambi Lokonga joined Luton Town on a straight loan for the duration of the Premier League season without a recall clause that might be activated in January. After receiving the assurance from then-head coach Patrick Vieira that he would get play, the Belgian international spent the second part of the previous season with Crystal Palace.
However, Lokonga’s playing time decreased after the Frenchman was replaced by Roy Hodgson, and the loan arrangement regrettably had no positive impact. He rejoined the team in the summer, but a further injury prevented him from traveling to the US with the retooled team, which featured record signing Declan Rice and the £65 million acquisition of Kai Havertz.
Rice and Havertz have both played in midfield in every Premier League game, highlighting the difficulty Lokonga faced in earning first-team minutes. The 23-year-old’s first true chance at a consistent starting position in the English top tier will be provided by the loan to Luton Town, which is intended to provide him continuous playing time at Premier League level without being distracted by rumors of a January recall.
Flashes of Lokonga’s potential were displayed. The skill is undeniably there; he just needs game time to unlock it, which, alas, at Arsenal, is just not possible. At the start of the 2021/22 season, he was even receiving more accolades than Thomas Partey in some matches.
After Burnley’s home game was postponed, Luton’s first three games saw them give up nine goals to Brighton, Chelsea, and West Ham. It is believed that their latest addition would help alleviate this issue. The first chance for Lokonga to make an impact will come on an away trip to Fulham following the international break.
In the summer of 2024, when he will be 24 years old and have two years left on his contract, he will return to Arsenal. There are probably two possible results from the action.
As an example, Partey was said to be moving to Saudi Arabia this summer. Either his performances will impress to the point that Lokonga restores Mikel Arteta’s faith in his investment from 2021 that he may replace the prospective departure of a present midfield.
Alternatively, if there is no option for him to rejoin Arsenal, his performances should increase his market value and provide him the chance to move on to play at the highest level either in England or overseas. He will ideally keep any possible financial value the same or even increase it at the same time.
What the lack of a recall clause also means is that if Arteta wants midfield reinforcement in the January transfer window, there will need to be further investment on the market. With Partey out for a reported period of at least six weeks, a move for a midfielder this winter is not wildly unlikely.