On-loan Arsenal player Albert Sambi Lokonga has thanked Patrick Vieira for ‘giving his smile back’ in what appears to be a dig at Mikel Arteta.
Vieira was sacked by Crystal Palace on Friday with the club failing to win a single Premier League game since the World Cup. And the decision brought his 18-month spell at Selhurst Park to an end after he replaced Roy Hodgson.
Sambi Lokonga has become one of the first players to give his response to Vieira’s departure. He posted to his Instagram story with a picture of the duo.
The Belgian star wrote: “Thank you for giving me back the smile during this short period of time. See you soon coach!”
Lokonga has played seven matches for Palace since his January move – five of those being starts. That was a huge contrast to his Arsenal chances this term.
The former Anderlecht midfielder made just two league starts for the Gunners this term as opportunities dried up after a promising debut season.
Speaking at the time of Sambi Lokonga’s exit, Arsenal head coach Arteta revealed that a move to Palace would be ideal for the player to earn more game time.
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“We’ve offloaded the squad with three players. Sambi needed time and games to develop the talent that he has and I think in Palace we’ve found the right club with the right coaching staff as well, so I believe that will work out,” the Spaniard said.
Meanwhile, Lokonga had revealed that the chance to play under Vieira was a key factor behind his decision to away on from the Emirates.
“He had a big influence [on my decision to join Palace] because he played for Arsenal and he knows the Premier League very well,” the Belgian said of Vieira.
“I think playing under him is a good step for me. I can learn a lot from him and from his aggression [on the pitch] that I miss sometimes in my game. The way he is close to the play, I think it’s helpful to progress.
“This kind of manager, like Vieira, they keep working, they’re always busy thinking about football, so the result is not a surprise I think they look to create freedom on the pitch and this is something you can see quickly. That’s the main thing about Arteta and Patrick Vieira.”