Arsenal star says he ‘almost snapped’ as ‘disgusting’ treatment thwarts World Cup hopes

Will Ford
Lokonga Arsenal

Albert Sambi Lokonga has admitted he “almost snapped” at Arsenal last season at his lack of game time and detailed how “disgusting” treatment of him has left his World Cup hopes in tatters.

Lokonga has started just two Premier League games this season with Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey the preferred pairing for Mikel Arteta in midfield.

The Belgium international admits he’s found his lack of opportunities at the Emirates “difficult” but revealed he is happy to have made the decision to stay in the summer.

He told La Derniere Heure (via Evening Standard): “Honestly, it’s difficult. I’m at one of the best clubs in England. I could have played somewhere else every weekend, but that wouldn’t have been the right solution for me.

“It’s a personal decision [to stay at Arsenal]. I wanted to give myself another year to stay at Arsenal and then see what happens.”

“At the end of last season, I almost snapped,” he added. “I called my agent to ask him if staying at Arsenal was a good idea. He comforted me in my choice, even though I know I need to start more often to develop.”

It’s not Mikel Arteta he’s “p*ssed off” at but Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, after he was called up by the national boss in March for friendlies against Republic of Ireland and Burkina Faso, but failed to play a single minute, and was left out of the last squad altogether.

Lokonga said: “I called him the day after the international match in March. I was really pissed off. I thought for a moment that I didn’t even want to play for the national team anymore. I was disgusted.

“Martinez said he preferred players who are playing regularly at their club. He was also not completely satisfied with my training. I don’t think he can portray me as a bad boy who doesn’t work hard. It would be too easy to put up such a picture of me. He can’t use something like that to justify why I don’t get to play.

“If I’m already on the bench while De Bruyne, Hazard and the other stars are not there, then I don’t stand a chance if they are in the selection. Maybe Martinez doesn’t believe in my qualities or he doesn’t like my style. But I’d rather he communicate that clearly. I would have accepted his decision without hesitation.”

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