Who is Mohamed Elneny? We profile the reported Arsenal target
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 28/12/15 12:45pm
Arsenal are reportedly set to strengthen their midfield with the signing of Egypt international Mohamed Elneny in the January transfer window.
Arsene Wenger was coy when quizzed on the Basel midfielder by Sky Sports News HQ in the wake of Arsenal's 4-0 defeat by Southampton on Boxing Day, but the Daily Mirror say the Gunners are hopeful of wrapping up a deal for the 23-year-old having agreed a £5m fee.
So who exactly is Elneny? And how would he fit in at Arsenal? Here, we take a look at the player's credentials…
Elneny came through the youth ranks at Al-Ahly before moving to Egyptian Premier League rivals El Mokawloon, where he broke into the first team alongside Mohamed Salah, who he says is "like a brother" to him. Basel clinched the signing of Salah in the summer of 2012, and six months later Elneny followed his former team-mate to Switzerland.
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He initially signed for Basel on loan but made the move permanent in May 2013. The midfielder has become a key player since then, making close to 100 Swiss Super League appearances and helping Basel win three consecutive titles. He has featured in Europa League clashes with Tottenham and Champions League ties against Chelsea and Liverpool, and this season has been his best yet, with six goals in 28 appearances in all competitions.
Elneny is also an established Egypt international. He represented his country as they reached the quarter-finals at the London 2012 Olympics, and in total he has made 40 appearances for the national team, scoring three times.
Strengths and style of play
Elneny is a deep-lying central midfielder who stands at 5ft 11in. He has the energy and pace to get up and down the pitch and he is as comfortable attacking as he is defending.
The 23-year-old has become known for his impressive range of passing at Basel and he also likes to shoot from distance, with a number of his recent goals coming from outside the box. Elneny is one of Basel's favoured set-piece takers, and as well as being technically accomplished, he is physically strong and tough in the tackle.
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Elneny was particularly impressive in Basel's Europa League group campaign this season. He scored twice in five appearances, his pass accuracy of 92.4 per cent was the highest at the club, and he also ranked highly for tackles (2.4 per game) and interceptions (2.0 per game).
Premier League dream
In an interview with the Cairo Post in April, Elneny claimed he had received "several offers" from other clubs and confirmed his ambition to move to the Premier League.
"The Premier League is a big dream for any player, and I hope to move there one day," Elneny said. "But I am entirely focused on finishing the season with Basel outstandingly, and then I will think about offers from any other clubs."
In the same interview, Elneny also revealed he had already started learning English.
Elneny would provide much-needed cover for Arsenal in central midfield, both in the short-term and the long-term. The Gunners are currently without the likes of Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere due to injuries, while Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini are out of contract in the summer.
Elneny is an all-rounder who could play in a number of different roles for the Gunners, but he would primarily offer support to Coquelin as an extra defensive midfielder.
The Egyptian would have to adjust to the rigours of Premier League football, but having only turned 23 in July, there would be plenty of room for development.