Arteta responds to Lokonga complaint and explains work required to avoid January upgrade

Arsenal midfielder Sambi Lokonga after a match Credit: Alamy
Arsenal midfielder Sambi Lokonga after a match Credit: Alamy

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has urged Albert Sambi Lokonga to “speak on the pitch” in response to the midfielder’s revelation over his unhappiness last season.

Lokonga recently admitted his frustration last season over his lack of game time for the Gunners.

“Honestly, it’s difficult,” Lokonga said. “I’m at one of the best clubs in England. I could have played somewhere else every weekend, but that wouldn’t have been the right solution for me.

“It’s a personal decision [to stay at Arsenal]. I wanted to give myself another year to stay at Arsenal and then see what happens.”

“At the end of last season, I almost snapped,” he added. “I called my agent to ask him if staying at Arsenal was a good idea. He comforted me in my choice, even though I know I need to start more often to develop.”

Lokonga has enjoyed more of a chance to impress this term, starting two Premier League games and all of Arsenal’s Europa League outings.

Asked about Lokonga’s comments and how he keeps the players happy, Arteta said: “Play them and then let them speak on the pitch. The best way.”

Arsenal continue to be linked with midfielders ahead of the January transfer window having pulled out all the stops in attempt to land Aston Villa star Douglas Luiz at the end of the summer.

And when asked whether Lokonga had done enough to convince him that Arsenal don’t need a midfielder in January, Arteta added: “We’ll see more, and he has to prove that what he’s asking for he can produce on the pitch.

“We’re looking for every single player to raise their level and get the right competition in the team, and when you play and perform in a way that we win and play well enough to win games.”

Lokonga is expected to start against PSV Eindhoven on Thursday, with Arsenal needing just a point to guarantee finishing top of their Europa League group and secure qualification to the last 16.

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