Arsenal fail with £13.5m bid for Belgian wonderkid
Arsenal have seen a bid of £13.5 million for Belgian midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga rejected by Anderlecht.
The 21-year-old had his breakthrough season in 2019/20, but has stepped up a level in the past 12 months, with the Gunners interested in signing him as competition for Thomas Partey, although the pair may both start if Granit Xhaka does leave the club this summer.
Arsenal have already missed out on targets Emiliano Buendia and Martin Odegaard in recent weeks, so will be desperate to land Sambi Lokonga.
Partey hasn't quite lived up to expectations at the club, and whilst they still have faith in the former Atletico Madrid defensive midfielder, given the depth of midfield talent available to the likes of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Arteta wants to add to his squad.
Sambi Lokonga is believed to be the man that the club have identified as a solution to their issues, but Anderlecht are holding out for at least £18m for their midfielder, which is around £5m above Arsenal's initial offer.
Sambi Lokonga earned his first international call-up for Belgium this year, and is on the standby list for Roberto Martinez's European Championship squad.
Arsenal are confident that a deal can be agreed, although they will have to be wary of how much they spend on Sambi Lokonga given the fact that they are pursuing Brighton's Ben White, full-back cover, a creative No.10, and potentially a new striker.
How good is Sambi Lokonga?
Last season for Anderlecht, Sambi Lokonga was making 3.5 tackles and interceptions per 90 in the Jupiler Pro League, 0.4 less than the aforementioned Partey.
He scored three and assisted two as Anderlecht finished the season in third.
With an 86% pass accuracy, and 19.1 final third passes per 90, more than Partey, Sambi Lokonga is comfortable in possession, and if Arsenal are able to land him, he could be a smart acquisition, the kind the Gunners haven't utilised too often in recent years.