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Agents in London: AFC could finally ditch Lokonga with move for “intriguing” £5m gem – opinion

Premier League high-flyers Arsenal could potentially be making a move for Vitoria Guimaraes sensation, Ibrahima Bamba, as manager Mikel Arteta looks to bolster his midfield ranks.

What’s the word?

Writing on Twitter, journalist Jacque Talbot revealed that the 20-year-old’s agent is currently in London, amid reports at the tail end of last season that suggested the promising Italian was a target for the north Londoners.

The transfer insider stated: “Told Ibrahima Bamba’s agents are in London amid Arsenal links.”

The suggestion back in November was that the 6 foot starlet has a release in his current deal of around £26.5m, albeit with further reports suggesting that the Portuguese outfit could be open to a sale for a fee of just €6m (£5m).

Ditch Lokonga

This search for a midfielder comes amid claims that the Gunners have rejected a loan approach from Monaco for peripheral figure Albert Sambi Lokonga, with Arteta seemingly not keen to see his squad further depleted.

Bringing in the aforementioned Bamba could, however, allow the league leaders to move the struggling Belgian on before deadline day, with Lokonga having slipped way down the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium of late.

The former Anderlecht ace – who signed on a £17.2m deal back in the summer of 2021 – has been restricted to just six Premier League appearances so far this term, with only two of those having come from the start.

As journalist Tom Marshall-Bailey stated, the 23-year-old “looks badly in need of a loan right now if he’s to fulfil his potential“, having been unable to dislodge the starting pairing of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka in recent months.

With it looking as if the one-cap international does not have the full faith of his manager at present, it may well make sense to secure a deal for an “intriguing” asset in the form of Bamba, as lauded by writer Zach Lowy.

The exciting talent would clearly be able to strengthen Arsenal’s midfield due to his ball-winning prowess as he has averaged 2.92 tackles per 90 over the past year, with that record far greater than that of Lokonga, who has averaged just 0.9 tackles in that time.

That ability to provide an effective screen in front of the back four is also evidenced by the fact that the Vercelli-born dynamo has averaged 2.6 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game from his 16 Primeira Liga outings in the current campaign, while Lokonga has averaged just 0.2 and 0.8 for those same two metrics, respectively, in the top-flight.

That should indicate that the signing of Bamba could prove to be a sizeable upgrade on the struggling Gunners man for Arteta and co.

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