New Arsenal signing is a "promising player": Arsene Wenger in London Colney
PUBLISHED: 11:10 15 January 2016 | UPDATED: 13:16 15 January 2016
New Arsenal signing Mohamed Elneny is expected to "contribute in an area we are short", boss Arsene Wenger told reporters at today's (Friday) press conference at the club's training base in London Colney.
Egypt international Elneny, 23, a midfielder, has joined Arsenal from FC Basel, in a move which the BBC said was believed to have cost £5 million.
He became the first Egyptian to join the club when his transfer from FC Basel was completed yesterday (Thursday).
After news of his signing broke, Elneny tweeted “Thanks Allah for everything @arsenal”
Describing him as a “promising player” Arsene said that he has already adapted to playing in Europe, as opposed to coming “straight from Egypt to England – he has played for three years in Switzerland”.
Wenger said he expected Elneny to develop into a very strong player because he has both sides of the game – he can defend and attack “and that is the way we want to play midfield”.
One reporter pointed out that Elneny grew up in a football family and his father was formerly “an amazing player” – prompting Wenger to reply: “Can he still play?”
Asked whether he had anything to say to Arabic fans, Wenger replied: “Egyptian fans should be proud of Elneny, because of his quality, his work and determination, he managed to get a transfer. No matter where you come from, you get a chance.”
Wenger said that in regard to his long-term intention for Elneny and to determine “where his ultimate strengths will be, I need to know more, in daily contact, to see how well he can win the ball in Premier League as well.”
He is apparently available for selection for this weekend’s Premier League match, but Wenger has not “decided yet”.
Arsenal drew 3-3 in its Premier League match with Liverpool on Wednesday (13).
After the match, Olivier Giroud tweeted: “Good game yesterday. We will try to get the 3 points at Stoke and score again.”
Wenger said today: “Apparently we have no injuries from the Liverpool game, so it is a possibility Elneny is in the squad on Sunday.
“The question mark is about Sanchez. He has two decisive days, today and tomorrow. He is fit, has worked very hard, the decision we have to make is to take a gamble or not on his injury.”
Alexis Sanchez last played on November 29, against Norwich City.
With this year marking the 10th anniversary of Theo Walcott’s signing to Arsenal, Wenger paid tribute to the Gunners’ longest-serving player, saying, “Well, Walcott came at 16 years of age, and went straight to the World Cup without playing a Premier League game, so it could have gone both ways. And I feel that the credit I have to give to him is that he did very well, he kept his feet on the ground and was always very humble.
“He was receptive to advice, and he had ups and downs, because he had bad injuries, and that made him much stronger mentally, and today I believe he has become more a team player, conscious of his contribution to the team work.
“He has developed well as a technical player, and today he is a much better finisher and in assists, and much more reliable in his teamwork. The next four or five years will be decisive for him, because that is when you make your career, between 26 and 31/32, where a good player becomes a great player, or just remains a good player.”
Wenger’s press conferences usually involve a moment of light-heartedness, and today it came courtesy of a question about the number of subs on a bench.
Asked if Premier League should allow more than the seven footballers currently allowed, Wenger laughed and replied: “I would need to buy two coaches to travel!
“But, no … let’s not forget because of my age, when I played football we had no substitution at all. And now we have seven available, and that looks to me enough.
“Sometimes when you go into a cup final, you would like to have your whole squad, being rewarded and on the bench.”
• Petr Cech feared yesterday (Thursday) that his Twitter account had been hacked, tweeting: “My Twitter has been hacked!! Please don’t click on any links.”
• Stoke City V Arsenal, Barclays Premier League, Sunday January 17, Britannia Stadium, 4.15pm