What’s happening with Mo Elneny at Arsenal?
Arsene Wenger brought in the Egyptian midfielder, Mohamed Elneny from Basel in a £7 million deal back in January, 2016. The long search for a defensive midfielder with the ability to dictate play and control the tempo of the match seemed to have reached an end when Wenger identified Elneny as the man to step into the role. The role that Arsenal fans lamented over ever since the Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva days. The African did not disappoint even in the big matches. A memorable goal for Arsenal against Barcelona just 2 months into his time at the Emirates increased Elneny’s popularity among the fans. However, the 26-year old struggled to make himself indispensable in Wenger’s team over the past two years. Unai Emery’s era does not promise to be different. Here, we assess his situation at Arsenal.
Mo Elneny has been used as a fringe player since 2016 meaning he has had limited game time. Elneny deputised Ramsey and Santi Cazorla which guaranteed him some minutes in case these two needed to be rested. His ability to play in between the lines and pick a pass made him a good back up to the Spaniard Santi Cazorla who was the heart and soul of the team. However, Francis Coquelin overtook Elneny in the pecking order and suddenly, he had 3 players to compete with for a place in Arsene Wenger’s team. That same year, Arsenal announced the signing of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach and as expected, life became even more difficult for the Egyptian. However, the club’s participation in 4 different tournaments ensured that he had a decent amount of time doing what he knows best.
Fast-forward to this year, Elneny is in somewhat a similar situation to that one a couple of years ago, if not worse. The Egyptian international who played at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia finals finds himself behind recent arrivals in Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi as well as Granit Xhaka, and Aaron Ramsey in Unai Emery’s team. This raises questions as to why the player has not progressed enough to knock on the doors of the first team like how Casemiro’s influence grew in the midfield trio of Real Madrid. Could it be that the player is content with his situation as long he gets the big bucks at the London club or that his love for Arsenal is too great that he still hopes to achieve more with the team. This question still has to be answered but his situation should concern the Egyptian coach, Javier Aguirre, who is aware of the player’s talent and potential.
Besides, there is reason to believe that his situation could become worse. This depends on Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ progress in recovery from a fractured fibula. The young English international has put in some impressive performances since his debut. Paul Pogba reserved some special praise for the 21-year old on April 29, when the youngster bossed the midfield against Manchester United. Ainsley is also another player contending for a spot in the team.
In addition, Mo Elneny is not getting any younger. He is now 26-years of age and approaching the ‘prime years’ of footballers. He surely would not like be spending his best years in his playing career playing second fiddle not only to the aforementioned players but also to the youngsters that seem to be given the nod ahead of him at Arsenal. Although he has already played in the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup this 2018/19 season, he would most definitely be dreaming of showcasing his goods in the English Premier League like his fellow compatriot, Mohamed Salah at Liverpool. Maybe it is time that the Egyptian could consider leaving Arsenal to further his career. Cheikhou Kouyate did the same this summer when he left West Ham for Crystal Palace. Elneny is too good a player to keep playing in the less significant matches like he has been doing this season and the situation looks like it’s having a toll on his confidence as well.
What do you think Elneny should do? Could the situation improve?