Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud has backed new Gunners signing Mohamed Elneny, telling reporters he's a “complete player” and someone who will “settle well into the team.”
The Egypt international completed his transfer move from Basel to Arsenal earlier this week, becoming the club's first outfield signing in a year, per Alex Harris of the Daily Star.
Giroud is already a fan, according to Harris:
I’ve trained with him and he’s a good player, very talented but first of all he is a good guy - I think he will settle well into the team.
I think he’s basically a box-to-box midfielder, so he can attack and defend, run a lot and has good power and technique. He is quite a complete player.
It always takes time to adapt to English football because there is a lot of intensity, it is very physical and even tactically [you must get used to it] - but I think Premier League football will suit him well.
Elneny could make his debut on Sunday when the Gunners face Stoke City, although he's more likely to be eased into the squad. Arsenal will hope he learns fast, as the team is desperate for another physical force in the centre of the pitch, with Francis Coquelin still sidelined.
The 23-year-old Elneny has the versatility to help out all over midfield, having played a variety of roles for Basel, but he's most likely to play as a holding midfielder at the Emirates. As you can see in the video below, he looks equally comfortable further up the pitch:
He already looks like a better passer and playmaker than Coquelin, although he lacks the Frenchman's raw power and defensive tenacity. Elneny has all of the physical tools required to be successful at the position―Coquelin is just in a class of his own as far as the midfield battle goes.
The Egyptian also brings superb shooting from distance to the table, another weapon the Gunners can use. ESPN FC's Michael Cox noted how devastating he was from long range when he played against Fiorentina:
Saw Mohamed Elneny play against Fiorentina a few weeks back - he looked very good. https://t.co/madhQH7hUr— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) January 16, 2016
It's a positive sign he has already made an impression on Giroud, although the French striker obviously gave the kind of statement fans would expect to hear. Encouragement is key whenever a new player with no Premier League experience joins the squad―growing pains are to be expected, and he may struggle tremendously in the coming weeks.
Elneny may make a cameo appearance against Stoke, and whether he receives his first start soon will likely depend on whether he can keep impressing the likes of Giroud―and manager Arsene Wenger―in training.
Mathieu Debuchy Close to Aston Villa Loan
According to the Birmingham Mail (h/t Daily Star's Alex Harris), full-back Mathieu Debuchy has agreed to join Aston Villa on loan, with the deal expected to be made official soon. Villa manager Remi Garde has reportedly promised his compatriot a starting position, which convinced him not to move to Roma.
The 30-year-old has barely featured for the Gunners this season, as young star Hector Bellerin has emerged as one of the most promising prospects at the position in all of football. Debuchy was unlikely to be selected for the upcoming UEFA Euro 2016 tournament if he spent the next few months on the bench, which explains the move.
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Johnson thinks it's the right move for everyone involved:
@Chrsmo Good move for all concerned IMO. Villa replace Hutton, Debuchy gets guaranteed 1st team football & Arsenal won't have him moaning.— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) January 16, 2016
While the Gunners will sacrifice a great deal of depth and experience by shipping Debuchy off to Birmingham, they'll also make sure the former Newcastle United man doesn't become a distraction.
Bellerin's health hasn't been an issue so far this season―as far as he stays healthy, they deal is a positive one.
Calum Chambers will likely become the first replacement off the bench, but the youngster looks more comfortable in a central role and has struggled for consistency in the past.