Albert Sambi Lokonga snubs unusual Arsenal number despite personal link

New Arsenal signing Albert Sambi Lokonga has opted against wearing the same number he sported for Belgian giants Anderlecht after completing his move to the Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta has made the Belgium youth international his second signing of the summer after Nuno Tavares arrived from SL Benfica earlier this month.

Lokonga has signed a long-term deal with the Gunners and arrives from the Belgian Pro League side for a fee of £15.75million.

However, he will wear an alternate squad number to the one he has worn in his homeland for the past four seasons, despite reports he had chosen to once again wear the number in North London.

Central midfielder Lokonga wore the number 48 during his time at Anderlecht, having broken into the first-team as an 18-year-old in 2018.

The unusual shirt number is believed to have been chosen due to a connection with his hometown of Verviers, which has the area code 4800.

Despite this, Arsenal announced today that Lokonga will wear the number 23 for his new club along with 'Sambi' on the back of his shirt for the 2021/22 season.

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The number has previously belonged to the likes of Andrey Arshavin, Danny Welbeck and David Luiz over the past 10 seasons.

Lokonga, who has been capped by Belgium at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level, will be hoping to make a more positive impact than last season's number 23, with Luiz leaving the Gunners following the expiry of his deal after two seasons in North London.

Having been developed in the Anderlecht academy, Lokonga was promoted to the first team squad in 2018 and went on to make 78 appearances for the club, scoring three goals and providing seven assists along the way.

All three of his strikes for the Purple and White came last term as he featured 37 times as his side qualified for the Europa Conference League.

He has been called up to the senior Belgium national side on one occasion but has yet to be capped and was not a member of Roberto Martinez's squad for EURO 2020.

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