Recently, Gooners have found out that Arsenal may be in talks with a midfielder from FC Basel – a certain Mohamed Elneny. Who is he? Is this actually happening? The next paragraphs you read attempt to shed some light on the truth and dispel the hype.
Ever since Arsenal wrapped up their recruitment in the summer window incredibly early with the sole capture of Petr Cech, a vast majority of Gooners have questioned Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy. Every expert and journalist, pundit and fan respectively have been able to identify the areas in which Arsene should concentrate on strengthening but a lack of available targets was given as the reason as to why no one was brought in.
It isn’t only this that frustrates Arsenal fans, it is the apparent avoidance of spending money that infuriates a portion of the fanbase. Assurances regarding the spending power of the club, and year after year of financial results that show the club in rude health would surely mean that any player Arsene casts his gaze upon could be lured with wads of lucre.
Well, the season is in full swing, and the annual injury plague has struck once more. Midfield lynchpin Francis Coquelin has been missing and will continue to occupy the treatment table until February. Take into consideration his midfield partner Santi Cazorla will be absent for a similar length of time and it leaves Arsenal crying out for a little steel in the middle of the park.
Cue the endless transfer rumours and social network hyperbole, with a raft of lonely, rather sad people claiming to have the inside track on goings on inside The Emirates. There are few that fans can trust to disseminate legitimate information, but one such person is the BBC’s David Ornstein.
On Sunday the 27th of December, he tweeted that FC Basel defensive midfielder Mohamed Elneny was in talks to sign for the Gunners in January. Meltdown ensued and there was a cacophony of keyboards tapping as supporters everywhere started to search for details of this player – as none of us had much of an idea who he was.
Well, this article is written with one aim in mind – to fill in the gaps on a player who may well be the next Arsenal transfer acquisition. Who is Mohamed Elneny?
Mohamed Elneny is a holding midfielder who currently plies his trade in Switzerland with champions FC Basel. He joined them in 2013 from El Mokawloon, but came through the youth ranks with Egyptian giants Al-Ahly. Since he joined, he has played an increasingly pivotal role in Basel’s on-pitch exploits, both domestically and their European runs in the Champions League and the Europa League. Thus far this season, he has made twenty eight appearances and scored six goals.
It is his defensive steel that has attracted Arsenal scouts though. He has made his name in Switzerland and for his Egyptian National team due to his leanings toward the tactical side of play and isn’t shy when it comes to the unglamorous side of the sport.
Reports in Switzerland state that he is more than comfortable playing anywhere in the centre of the park – be it in the shielding role, a box-to-box position or even a more attacking position – and his technical aspects are a little more advanced than the average clogger in the centre circle. Often the chosen set-piece specialist at Basel and recognised for his levels of stamina and long range shot, it appears that Elneny could be a fruitful acquisition for Arsenal if stories are to be believed.
The young Egyptian has also gained experience playing for his country forty times already. So many caps at such a young age can be maligned by pointing out Egypt’s lack of personnel in terms of talent, but with a glowing record in recent African Cup of Nations ( when competing ) it shows that his haul of international appearances cannot be ignored.
With Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini out of contract in the summer and unlikely to be offered a renewal, and with perennial plastercast model Jack Wilshere increasingly unreliable in terms of being called upon, it is easy to see why Wenger has decided that this may be the time to put into action his transfer plans. The Arsenal manager places so much trust in his players, but he looks resigned to the fact that Arteta and Flamini may not be able to sustain the required pace for a whole season. That means that Elneny will fit straight in.
Whilst Krystian Bielik was signed a year ago with a view to be the young dynamo that our midfield needed, he still toils away patiently in the reserve team for his chance. With Elneny seemingly close to joining, could this mean the end to the young Polish player’s career at Arsenal?
It is reasons such as this that appear to sway Arsene Wenger from dipping his toes into the transfer window. Reluctance at hindering the progress of his young charges hasn’t stopped him this time though. Elneny is a product of necessary strengthening. If his team is minus Coquelin, Cazorla and Wilshere for a prolonged time, then someone else must come in to replicate the energy levels and skills of the injured men. Are Bielik, Flamini, Arteta and any others in our ranks capable of consistently doing this?
Elneny is technically sound, defensively tuned and with stamina levels apparently high enough to rival Aaron Ramsey. If the reported figure of between £5 and £7 million is true, then it seems like good business.
There will be some who point to other candidates who could quite easily fill any boots, but one thing is for sure. If Elneny is the next Arsenal signing, then Arsene would have done his homework and watched him play on numerous occasions. Research and knowledge of the player will be in abundance and I’m confident his keen eye hasn’t dulled with age. Elneny could just be the next rough diamond that Wenger has unearthed.