EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal eye Anderlecht’s talented youngster Jason Eyenga-Lokilo
Jason Eyenga-Lokilo, is this another Belgian youngster set to leave the country for a Premier League club? Charly Junior Musonda (Chelsea), Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United) and Mathias Bossaerts (Manchester City) are the most high profile youngsters who left Anderlecht for a Premier League club in recent years. Despite their beautiful youth academy in Neerpede and change of philosophy, Anderlecht will never be able to keep all their best talents with the club. They can’t give their youth players the financial security which the Premier League clubs of England can.
This time it’s Arsenal who have an Anderlecht youngster on their short list. Jason Eyenga-Lokilo is an attacking midfielder whose best position is seemingly where the most talented of Belgian’s play these days, the coveted number 10. From time to time he also plays as a winger but Lokilo is somebody who needs to feel the ball a lot, a creative force he likes to be central to the activity on the field. The marauding miniature can read the game and anticipate balls to him very well, and while a lot of his highlights will show him easing past players who will unlikely make it as professional, his first touch can often take an opposing player out of contention completely. On top of his long list of doubtless talents, his shooting technique from freekicks is virtually flawless.
Anderlecht made a proposal to Lokilo and his father. The family weren’t really satisfied with Anderlecht’s offer and European top clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City feel it’s the moment to bring another talented Belgian player to the Premier League. Jason Eyenga-Lokilo is only 15-years old so Anderlecht are on the edge of losing another talented player for a very small amount after the club received a paltry fee of around €575.000 for Adnan Januzaj.
Lokilo’s father told us that he wants his son to play in the best circumstances. He would like his son to stay at Anderlecht and once see him in the first team of the Belgian club. Jean Claude Lokilo and Anderlecht have already met three times but they couldn’t find an agreement yet. That’s why Lokilo’s family are considering other options for the talented midfielder. It’s a difficult situation for the whole family, but both Jason and his father feel that Arsenal is a club where youngsters always will get their chances, and with good reason too.
This season Anderlecht were the youngest club in the Champions League by average age. Youri Tielemans, Dennis Praet, Massimo Bruno, Chancel Mbemba and many others are all still younger than 21 years old and this youthful inexperience certainly showed in certain matches. This change means that Anderlecht are really starting to change their philosophy and that they give their youth players chances, even in Europe’s biggest competition. Lokilo’s father is just scared that not everybody on Anderlecht’s board are thinking the same, “they don’t want him to leave but you feel that some board members don’t have 100% faith in him”, said Jean-Claude Lokilo to BeNeFoot.
Last week Steve Morrow, Head of Arsenal’s Youth Academy, was present at Lokilo’s game against Lierse SK. Steve Morrow called Jean-Claude Lokilo the day after to ask if his son could have a one-week test at Arsenal. Not to see how talented Jason is but just to see how he would behave in a totally different environment. Arsenal are following Lokilo since around two years so they already have seen enough of his football capacities. Both Peter Clarke and Steve Rowley, scout and current Chief of Arsenal’s scout department, contacted Jean-Claude Lokilo in the past to enquire about his son, now they want his son to join Arsenal.
Despite Arsenal’s heightened interest. Aston Villa are currently the club whose infatuation with the gifted teenager has already become concrete. They’ve certainly already sent two official transfer requests to Anderlecht but both have been rebuffed from the reigning Belgian champions showing they are not keen to part with one of their prize assets, they are adamant that Jason Eyenga-Lokilo will stay in Brussels if they get their way. Aston Villa are prepared to go far for Jason but the Premier League club will at least have to wait until september, when Jason turns 16, to give it another shot.
Besides Arsenal and Aston Villa there were also other clubs very interested in Jason. Matthew Newberry from Liverpool already came twice to Brussels to meet in the Sheraton Hotel with Lokilo’s father. Lokilo’s entourage also had two meetings in Belgium with Manchester City’s Sebastian Arnesen. Jason isn’t only on the radar of Premier League clubs but also in France. Lyon enquired information about Lokilo via Gérard Bonneau but the club doesn’t want to negotiate before Jason turns sixteen. Bertrand Reuzeau, Chief of Paris Saint-Germain’s academy, also follows Jason Eyenga-Lokilo. The giant French club already contacted Lokilo’s entourage a couple of times since he turned thirteen.
Anderlecht signed Alper Ademoglu, who’s a bit older than Lokilo, some weeks ago so it seems Anderlecht are at least afraid of losing the talented midfielder and offered him a big contract to try and entice him to stay. Lokilo’s father hopes that Anderlecht are still considering to go an extra mile for his son so he can commit to Anderlecht for the foreseeable future.
Both Anderlecht and the player’s entourage have time to think about the future now. Will Anderlecht lose another talented midfielder? Is this another Adnan Januzaj or Dries Mertens-case or are Anderlecht financially not strong enough to keep all their talented players whereby they have to make a hard decision from time to time?
You can read a recent piece about Jason Eyenga-Lokilo that was published on BeNeFoot here:
And you can check out Jason Eyenga-Lokilo’s skills here: