Albert Sambi Lokonga completed a deadline-day loan move to Crystal Palace this week, swapping north London for south London for the remainder of the season.
Discussing his decision to make that move, the midfielder admitted former Gunner and current Palace manager Patrick Vieira played a big role.
“It was not easy [to leave Arsenal] because as you can see they are top of the league,” Lokonga said. “But for me, the important thing was the confidence of the coach (Patrick Vieira).
“I had him on the phone and it was a good opportunity to come here, to show myself and to help the boys reach their objectives.
“He said to me ‘welcome’. He is going to push me to be a better player – I am looking forward to it.”
Lokonga insisted he’s ready to step into the Palace lineup immediately if called upon, with Palace preparing to face Manchester United on Saturday, February 4th.
“I’m fully fit,” Sambi said. “I am ready to start if needed on Saturday in the game.”
Palace have a run of big games coming up, playing against United, local rivals Brighton, Liverpool, and Manchester City in the next six fixtures before their trip to Arsenal – for which Sambi will be ineligible.
Even the other two fixtures in that run against high-flying Brentford and a rejuvenated Aston Villa shouldn’t be easy.
Assuming Lokonga can get into the Palace starting lineup and nail down a place with the side, it looks like the perfect opportunity for regular minutes against top Premier League sides, as he would’ve wanted.