Arsenal have completed a deal for Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny, who has signed from Basel for a reported £7 million.
Official confirmation came on Thursday morning:
Arsenal FC @Arsenal
It’s official! @ElNennyM has joined @Arsenal https://t.co/EXB8o9Fbu6 #ElnenySigns https://t.co/DWHoBL7DtB2016-1-14 11:01:25
Hours earlier, boss Arsene Wenger announced the deal was done in his post-match press conference at Liverpool, per James Benge of the Evening Standard, adding: "We will see if he can qualify for Sunday."
The 23-year-old has been making steady progress with the Swiss giants and has clearly caught the eye of the Gunners manager with some action-packed performances in 2015.
Elneny is a defensive-minded footballer who is capable of playing in an orthodox position or a little deeper in the midfield setup. There are still areas for the Egypt international to work on, but his physicality, ability to spot danger and unrelenting energy seem to make him a perfect fit for the Premier League.
Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe outlined some more of the qualities that have enabled Elneny to excel at the heart of the Basel midfield:
Sam Tighe @stighefootball
Mohamed Elneny? -Extremely- high energy CM, plays at 100 mph and loves to break forward. Good shot on him. #AFC2015-12-26 13:34:02
Elneny began his youth career with Al Ahly in his homeland before moving on to El Mokawloon in search of regular football. He made his first senior appearance there before the Swiss outfit picked him up.
Since joining in 2013, the midfielder has helped Basel win three league titles, and he’s also represented his country on 40 occasions.
Over the past few months, he has really shot to prominence. Here are some of Elneny’s best moments from the 2015-16 season:
For the Gunners, it’s a necessary signing. Aside from Francis Coquelin, Arsenal are short of an authoritative presence in the middle of the park, with Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta both past their best.
With Coquelin sidelined, there have been times when Wenger’s side have had their soft centre ruthlessly exposed, most noticeably in the shock 4-0 loss to Southampton on Boxing Day.
Elneny, while not to the Frenchman’s standard yet, has the attributes to help shore up the middle of the pitch when Coquelin isn’t available.
However, according to John Cross of the Daily Mirror, the Gunners are eyeing a more high-profile holding player in the summer:
John Cross @johncrossmirror
Arsenal hope Elneny boosts the squad till the summer then they'll go for a bigger defensive midfielder #afc https://t.co/fvN2SUI6k12015-12-26 10:18:35
For Elneny, this move is a big step. The standard in English football is much higher than the Swiss top flight, which means savvy opponents could expose his frailties. However, having featured and impressed in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for Basel, he seems ready to make a step up in class.
Elneny will need time to settle, and the Gunners' supporters must be patient before rushing to judgment on him. However, all the qualities are there for the Egyptian to succeed at his new club, who will feel as though they’ve pulled off one of the shrewdest bits of business in the January transfer window.