Arsenal Have Found Sly Midfield Solution In Mohamed Elneny


Arsenal have targeted an under-the-radar midfielder as a potential solution to their midfield problems. Is Mohamed Elneny that man they have been after all along?

Leave it to Arsene Wenger to look straight in the face of all the quality defensive midfielders out there and see straight through them to a cheap Egyptian playing in Switzerland. It never seemed likely that Arsene Wenger would drop £20m+ on a defensive midfielder when this team has been in worse situations at the position before. What would seem likely is Wenger dropping a small £5m on a defensive midfielder who looks and plays like Francis Coquelin.

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Mohamed Elneny is currently suiting up for Swiss side FC Basel. The side has been a good fountain of talent recently and it would not be surprising to see Elneny turn into something special as well. The Egyptian midfielder is just 23 years of age and while in-depth statistics for the Swiss Super League are hard to come by, statistics for European competitions are not. In European competitions, Elneny has seen his average tackles and interceptions increase every year, no matter what competition Basel is in.

This year, in the Europa League, Elneny is averaging 2.4 tackles and 2.0 interceptions per 90 as well as a stout 92% pass completion (stats via WhoScored). He has even scored two goals and registered his highest degree of aerial dominance yet. In the Swiss Super League, he has put up a decent portion of goals as well (2), something that Francis Coquelin cannot stand up to. Here is a look at one such strike:

In terms of size, Elneny is very similar to Francis Coquelin. He stands a little taller but also a little thinner than the rambunctious Frenchman. So size will not be an issue when acclimatizing to the Premier League. That is so often the hangup for newcomers that it is refreshing to know that, should Wenger go for the budget signing, it is one less thing to worry about.

Elneny shows a good deal of pace and physicality on the pitch, which, given his size, could combine to make an epic defensive midfielder.

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While many fans are hoping for a big name guy like Bender or Krychowiak, sometimes a sly, budget signing like Elneny can be more effective. It allows Arsenal to display what makes them different from many other teams out there in that their scouting and team building is head and shoulders above what teams like the Manchester Mercenaries are doing these days.

Elneny is actually a very solid option for Arsenal Wenger to spend so little on. Arsenal need a defensive midfielder, and while a big name always seems like the better option, it is small names like Giroud and Koscielny, which Arsenal help turn big, that make this team special.