Josh Cullen has been credited with Albert Sambi Lokonga’s improvement.
Arsenal have completed the signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht and it would seem that The Gunners should be thankful to Ireland midfielder Josh Cullen.
Lokonga and Cullen played together in the centre of Anderlecht’s midfield last season, following the Ireland’s stars transfer from West Ham United last summer.
Under the management of Vincent Kompany, the pair helped the club to a fourth-place finish in the Belgian First Division and a place in this season’s Uefa Conference League third qualifying round.
Josh Cullen and Albert Sambi Lokonga had a “great understanding.”
The partnership caught the eye of many an observer of Belgian football last season, including former Newcastle United defender Philippe Albert.
Back in March, Albert spoke to RTE Sport about the Cullen/Lokonga pairing, saying: “He (Cullen) is among the three best players in every Anderlecht match. He’s been able to adapt to his role and to the team. He’s got a great understanding in midfield with Sambi Lokonga, who’s a future star.”
The same article states that Cullen “has been credited with helping to improve a player (Lokonga) who is tipped for a big move in the summer,” and that move materialised this afternoon when Arsenal confirmed the signing of the Belgium under-21 international.
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— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 19, 2021
Albert Sambi Lokonga “ready for the next stage.”
Speaking about his new acquisition, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said: “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 to 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.”
Josh Cullen in Stephen Kenny’s plans.
While Lokonga and Cullen have clearly been good for each other’s game, the latter appears to have done enough to warrant praise through his own hard work.
“If the team wins, it’s because he did a lot of jobs that the other players weren’t able to do,” Kompany has said of his midfield star.
“He strengthens everyone around him. He gets through a phenomenal amount of work. With his mentality, he’ll go further than a lot of people think.”
English-born Cullen is now an integral part of Stephen Kenny’s Ireland squad, with nine caps to his name.
Now aged 25, he could well end up following Lokonga back to the Premier League if he keeps up his impressive form in Belgium.