Martin Keown has told Stadium Astro that he does not believe Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga is “ready” just yet. Mo Elneny was picked ahead of the summer signing to face Chelsea on Wednesday night, a 4-2 win.
Lokonga, 22, was dropped to the bench again on Wednesday night having replaced the injured Thomas Partey in the defeats to both Brighton and Southampton. The £18million (Goal) signing is yet to prove his transfer fee.
In his absence, Elneny partnered Granit Xhaka in behind Martin Odegaard and it worked for Arsenal – who ended up winning 4-2 against Chelsea. A brilliant performance, in which Eddie Nketiah nabbed himself a brace.
Arsenal legend Keown discussed the inclusion of Elneny into the starting line-up and made it clear that Lokonga had not taken his opportunity when used. He believes Elneny is the better option, and has not let Arteta down.
“It was the right call to bring Elneny into the team. Lokonga looks as if he is not quite ready, yet. They have an array of players, Guendouzi and Torreira are out on loan. Elneny was kept here for reason.
“Obviously, Arteta doesn’t quite believe in him [Lokonga]. Lokonga hasn’t taken the opportunity, and Arteta has gone back to Elneny. I don’t think he has ever let Arteta down,” Keown told Stadium Astro, on Wednesday night.
Keown on Lokonga: Arsenal star might need to go on loan in summer
He has been poor since Arsenal made the somewhat surprising decision to sign him from Anderlecht. Normally, a club of Arsenal’s size, would keep an eye on him – and let more of a mid-table Premier League side sign him first.
Then, sign him from a Leicester, or a Brighton, knowing that he is proven in the Premier League – albeit for more cash. Arsenal took a risk with Lokonga, missing the middle man and as of yet, it has not worked. A loan might help.