The story of Sambi Lokonga’s number 23

New Arsenal signing Albert Sambi Lokonga will be the 11th player to wear the number 23 shirt for the Gunners since regular squad numbers were introduced for Premier League clubs in 1993.

Big things are expected of the 21-year-old midfielder after his £ 18million transfer from Anderlecht as part of a larger crucial group build-up at the Emirates Stadium.

Here’s a look back at the Arsenal numbers 23 that have come before him …

Ray Parlor was Arsenal’s first 23 in the Premier League era / Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Ray Parlor started his career at Arsenal and was only 20 when he became the first player to ever have number 23 for the club in the Premier League.

He kept it until the summer of 1995 when he acquired the number 15 jersey for which he is better known.

Paul Dickov started at Arsenal before making his name elsewhere / Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Paul Dickov was wanted by Arsenal as a teenager but ended up playing only sparingly for the first team before being sold to Manchester City for close to £ 1 million in August 1996.

Dickov spent six years in Manchester before moving on to Leicester and Blackburn.

Alberto Mendez was picked from the dark by Arsene Wenger but never established himself / Ben Radford / Getty Images

Arsene Wenger picked up the unknown midfielder Alberto Mendez from German regional football in 1997. But despite being on Arsenal’s books until 2002, he played only a handful of matches.

After 1999, the rest of his time at the club was spent on loan.

Stephen Hughes had 28, 16 and 23 for Arsenal / Getty Images / Getty Images

Stephen Hughes was Arsenal’s big home-grown hope in the mid-1990s and played 28 times in all competitions during the 1997/98 double season.

He was awarded the number 23 shirt in the summer of 1999, although he was soon loaned out to Fulham and then sold to Everton within a few months.

Nelson Vivas was just a back-up player with Arsenal / Jamie McDonald / Getty Images

Arsenal had high hopes for Nelson Vivas when he joined Boca Juniors for a not insignificant 1.5 million pounds shortly after starting for Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.

He originally had number seven before leaving for a loan spell at Celta Vigo halfway through his second season and took 23 when he returned.

Sol Campbell moved to Arsenal from Spurs in 2001 / Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Sol Campbell completed one of the most controversial transfers in English football history when he moved as a free agent to Arsenal from Tottenham in 2001.

The England defender chose the same number 23 shirt that he had previously used for Spurs until 1999.

Andrey Arshavin scored four goals against Liverpool 2009 / Alex Livesey / Getty Images

After Campbell left in 2006, no player wore Arsenal’s shirt number 23 until Russian star Andrey Arshavin joined the club in January 2009.

His career with the Gunners was mixed but included an iconic four-goal game in a 4-4 draw against Liverpool just months after his arrival.

Nicklas Bendtner had # 23 in his final season for Arsenal / GLYN KIRK / Getty Images

Nicklas Bendtner’s squad history at Arsenal was odd. He had 26 when he became a first team regular, but changed it to 52 a few years later and insisted it was special to him.

He later spent time on loan at Sunderland when it seemed as if his Arsenal career was coming to an end and then went bizarre to Juventus before returning to his parent club for a final season in a new shirt.

Danny Welbeck struggled with injuries to Arsenal / OLI SCARFF / Getty Images

The injury hell meant that Danny Welbeck only twice played more than 16 Premier League matches during his five seasons as an Arsenal player.

The forward was seen as a smart signing when Manchester United considered him to be in excess of the requirements in 2014, although Arsenal rarely saw him as the best.

Arsenal fans saw the good and bad sides of David Luiz / Marc Atkins / Getty Images

David Luiz was something of a shock sign for Arsenal in the summer of 2019 and cost an estimated £ 8 million from Chelsea to give some experience to a developing Gunners defense.

Maybe as expected, the Brazilian was both good and bad, won the FA Cup but also set a Premier League record for most penalties allowed in a single season.

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