Albert Lokonga was confirmed as an Arsenal player on Monday, joining Nuno Tavares as a new arrival to kick off what could be a busy summer of transfer business for the Premier League club.
Although the 21-year-old had spent his entire career until now with Anderlecht and Verbeke, who arrived at the club in March 2020, saw plenty of improvement in him during the time they worked together, talking positively of the way he had developed into a leader at such a tender age.
Speaking to Sky Sports News chief reporter Bryan Swanson, Verbeke said: “Sambi is of course a very good player. He’s one of the top talents coming from our academy. He can play as a defensive midfield player, he can play as a box-to-box player and, especially the last two seasons at the club, he has developed really well.
“He’s someone who is good on the ball, his technical ability in tight spaces is really good. Good short passing, good long passing. He’s always been a late developer so it’s only in the last season that his physical development really came into place.
“It means now he has the qualities to be able to recover more balls, he’s better in duels and that’s why I think he could develop in a role as a defensive midfielder for Arsenal in years to come.
“Of course he still has some working points; he needs to get better statistics as a box-to-box and needs to be a little bit tougher in duels as a defensive midfielder, but he already did really well last season and I expect him only to do better in the next season.
“I think Arsenal made a good decision on him and I think he is going to be a top player for Arsenal in the years to come.”