Albert Lokonga Analysis & What Arsenal Can Expect - Scout Report Analysis

Last name: Sambi Lokonga

First name: Albert-Mboyo

DOB: 22/10/1999 ( 21 y.o. )

Birth country: Belgium

Foot: Right

Matches played: 33

Min. per match: 88.9

Goals scored: 3

Assists: 3 (xA 3.25)

Yellow cards: 4

Red cards: 1 Arsenal have reportedly agreed a deal with Anderlecht for their 21-year-old captain Albert Lokongna, for around €17.5m plus add-ons. He had an impressive season in 2020/21 and had been linked with Arsenal for some time now. The deal looks like it's finally going to be done, putting some Arsenal fans at ease but because he played his football in the Belgium First Division, it's understandable that many fans may not know too much about Lokonga's game. This scout report, in the form of tactical analysis, will try to break down his strengths and how he could possibly fit in for Arsenal. My prediction would be that he doesn't start right away for the gunners, but it's not to say this will not be a great signing for the North London team.

Lokonga's Position

Looking at Lokonga's profile and playing style will help us understand what the 21-year-old is good at and if his playing traits can affect Arteta's Arsenal over the years to come. And a place to start would be to identify where exactly on the pitch he likes to operate. Anderlecht played 39% of their games using a 4-4-2 formation, where Lokonga typically played on the right side of central midfield. The other two formations Anderlecht used more frequently in the 2020/21 season was a 4-2-3-1 (19%), a formation Mikel Arteta switched to last season. The Belgian side also used a 4-3-3 (15%), a tactic familiar with Arteta and one he said he plans to use. If Arteta decides to use a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, Lokonga should not be unfamiliar with the shape, at least.

Lokonga heatmap from 2020/21 Belgium First Division A

This heat map shows he been pretty busy in midfield, having operated in just about all central areas between the two boxes. Lokonga is quick, fit and agile, and he uses his physical abilities on the pitch, something Arsenal may have been missing in midfield. But there's much more in Lokonga's locker than just his physical ability. He's an active passer and a player who likes to progress the ball up the pitch, which will move on to next.

Ball Progressing Traits

Lokonga played an important role for Anderlecht in their build-up stages from deep. He has a good passing range, which we'll talk about a bit later, but he also posses dribbling ability that helps his side progress up the pitch. Lokonga can be seen on various occasions, just before collecting the ball, attempting to read the situation before attempting his next move. His physical attributes also benefit his excellent on the ball skills too. The 21-year-old is somewhat a deep-lying playmaker with fewer defensive responsibilities which lay on his midfield partner(s). He likes to receive the ball from deep, and along with his technical skills on the ball, he uses his agility and speed to escape from pressure or tight spaces and progresses possession. Lokonga attempted 3 dribbles and completed 2.2 progressive runs per 90 in the Belgian top league. At Arsenal, that would rank him 1st with attempt dribbles and 2nd with progressive runs amongst the midfielders.

Here, Lokonga comes deep to collect the ball from the Anderlecht goalkeeper from a goal-kick. He has, by this point, already scanned over his left shoulder whilst picking up the ball inside his own box to read the situation.

Once he has collected the ball, he lifts his head immediately to assess his options again. As the Antwerp player has committed to pressing Lokonga, he may have sensed that beating him with a dribble was on.

As the two Antwerp players get tight to Lokonga, he uses his technical skills on the ball and the physical attributes to beat the two men that pressed on either side of him.

Lokonga gets the beating of both players and now has a passing option ahead of him. If the pass is made, he's effectively taken 4 Antwerp players out of the game. Instead, he continues to dribble with the ball near the halfway before attempting a defence-splitting pass. With Anderlecht chasing the game at this point, he may have attempted to force a chance for his side to get back in the game.

This trait can be effective for Arsenal when or if he does play. With Arsenal building up from the back, they will have a player able to beat those who choose to press high, trying to prevent Arsenal from progressing. He uses his body well. He can draw in fouls to release pressure. And when he's travelling from central midfield to collect the ball, he can attract an opponent to him to create space for his teammates to roam into.

The downside about Lokonga travelling to collect the ball is that he's often facing his own goal. This leaves little room for error w