Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga has heaped praise on team-mate William Saliba, claiming he is an intense defender.

Saliba, who joined the Gunners from Saint-Etienne for £27 million in the summer of 2019, impressed during his loan spell at Marseille last season. The 21-year-old propelled the club to a second-placed finish in Ligue 1 and was also named the ‘Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year’.

During the 2021-22 campaign, he featured in 52 matches across all competitions and helped his team register 20 clean sheets.

Since returning to his parent club, he has racked up 282 minutes in four pre-season friendlies against Everton, Orlando City, Chelsea and Sevilla.

Speaking on the Counter Attack Podcast, Lokonga expressed his first impression of the centre-back. He elaborated:

“I didn’t know he was so good because I didn’t see him play before [he left]. When I saw him for the first time I said, ‘wow, he is really, really good’. So I was surprised that Arsenal let him go on loan and he didn’t play.”

So far, the north London outfit have roped in striker Gabriel Jesus, midfielder Fabio Vieira, left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko, goalkeeper Matt Turner and forward Marquinhos on permanent deals.

Jesus has joined from Manchester City for a fee of £45 million. He registered 13 goals and provided 12 assists in 41 matches across competitions.

The Brazilian has started well for Arsenal, scoring seven goals in five pre-season matches.

Speaking about Jesus’ potential impact, Lokonga added:

“I think it’s the energy he brings to the team. He’s a nice guy, when he’s on the field you know he wants to do something so when he’s there he’s not just acting, he’s living the game. The way he presses, he’s intense, I think he will bring a lot to us this season.”

The 22-year-old continued:

“I think with Jesus, you can see [he’s bringing a winning mentality] because he’s more expressive. With Zinchenko, I think it’s two guys who have a lot of quality. I think you’ll see a lot of good things from them this season.”

The Gunners are scheduled to open their 2022-23 Premier League campaign away at Crystal Palace on August 5.

James Maddison keen to move to Arsenal

Leicester City midfielder James Maddison is reportedly interested in sealing a move to Arsenal. Speaking on The Done Deal Show, transfer insider Dean Jones shed light on Maddison’s future, saying:

“From what I hear, Maddison wants to join Tottenham or Arsenal. If he’s going to leave Leicester, one of those two need to make an offer. That’s the latest I have heard.”

The 24-year-old has featured in 170 matches for Leicester City, registering 45 goals and 32 assists in the process. Last season, he registered 30 goal contributions in 53 appearances across competitions.

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