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Brother backs forgotten Arsenal man to shine when he returns from injury 

Paul-José Mpoku believes his brother will return to full fitness to earn a recall to the national team ahead of Euros

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Arsenal players Sambi Albert Lokonga, Nuno Tavares, Nicolas Pepe
Image credit: Getty Images

Amidst a challenging spell marred by injuries and loan stints away from Arsenal, midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga has received a vote of confidence from his brother, Paul-José Mpoku. 

The latter expressed optimism about Lokonga’s potential to shine once he returns from his current injury setback.

Lokonga, who initially joined Arsenal amid moderate fanfare, struggled to meet expectations upon his arrival at the Emirates. The midfielder’s performance fell short of the anticipated standard, leading to loan spells at Crystal Palace last season and, currently, at Luton Town this season where he has not played as he would have liked.

Paul-José Mpoku spoke candidly about his brother’s journey from Anderlecht to Arsenal, highlighting the substantial leap in his career trajectory. He addressed Lokonga’s need to assert himself more on the field, suggesting that sometimes the midfielder’s approach might be perceived as overly passive. Mpoku acknowledged Lokonga’s promising display during his tenure at Crystal Palace, albeit disrupted by managerial changes that affected his playing time.

READ MORE: Mikel Arteta provides latest injury updates ahead of Luton Town clash

Reflecting on Lokonga’s current predicament, Mpoku attributed his injury at Luton Town to a lack of adequate preparation for the season. However, he expressed unwavering confidence in Lokonga’s abilities, dismissing any doubts about his quality as a player. Mpoku emphasised his hope for Lokonga’s swift recovery, enabling him to resume playing regularly and potentially secure a spot back in the national team.

In an interview with Het Nieuwsblad, as relayed by Voetbal Primeur, Mpoku remarked, “Don’t forget: he went from Anderlecht to Arsenal. A big step. He also needs to put himself more in the foreground. He is sometimes too sweet.

“He also needs to put himself more in the foreground. He is sometimes too sweet. The coach chose others, after which he was loaned to Crystal Palace. He also played great games there. Until his coach, Patrick Vieira, left and his successor (Roy Hodgson, ed.) did not let him play.”

Mpoku continued, “This season he had no real preparation and injured himself very quickly at Luton. You learn from that too. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a question of quality. I hope he gets fit again, can play matches and get back to the national team. He has the level for that.”

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