Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga has sent a subtle dig at Mikel Arteta with a sincere message to Patrick Vieira. The French icon was sacked as manager at Crystal Palace just days before their trip to the Emirates Stadium to face the Premier League leaders.
Lokonga joined Palace on loan until the end of the season during the January transfer window after struggling for game time under Arteta. The Belgian midfielder will be unavailable to play on Sunday afternoon due to Premier League rules that state that a player that has been loaned out is prohibited from playing against their parent club.
The Gunners allowed Lokonga to join Palace after signing Jorginho in a £12million deal from Chelsea. The 23-year-old has sent a message to Vieira following his dismissal as manager at Selhurst Park with a picture of the pair during their time together at Palace.
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The Belgian midfielder wrote: “Thank you for giving me back the smile during this short period of time. See you soon coach!”
Lokonga's message hints at a potential dig at Arteta, who used the Belgian as a rotation option at best, playing more in the Europa League group stages than he did in the Premier League.
The Arsenal boss preferred to start the likes of Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard and Fabio Vieira ahead of the Belgian, who will return to the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Lokonga has made seven appearances for Palace since his January switch - five of those being starts. The loanee's absence means that he joins Sam Johnstone and Nathan Ferguson as the three senior Crystal Palace players whom caretaker boss Paddy McCarthy cannot call upon against the Gunners.
Arsenal boss Arteta revealed that a move to Palace would be ideal for the youngster to earn more game time.
“We’ve offloaded the squad with three players. Sambi needed time and games to develop the talent that he has and I think in Palace we’ve found the right club with the right coaching staff as well, so I believe that will work out,” the Spaniard said.
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Arsenal news and transfers LIVE: All the latest news, rumours and gossip from the Emirates Stadium2023-03-18T20:12:55Z dg43tfdfdgfd