Egypt star Mohamed Elneny dreams of Barcelona move

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Elneny hopes to one day play for a top club in Europe.

In an interview with Sport 360, Basel’s Egypt midfielder Mohamed Elneny explains why he’s not moving to Dynamo Kiev and why with Hector Cuper at the helm, Egypt can win the World Cup.

On Wednesday night, FC Basel take on Maccabi Tel-Aviv looking to reach the Champions League group stage for the sixth time in eight years. The Israeli side were dispatched by the Swiss champions in the qualifiers two seasons ago and Basel are favourites to progress again.

Among those hoping for another chance to play on club football’s biggest stage is Basel’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny, who featured alongside compatriot Mohamed Salah the last time Maccabi rolled into Switzerland.

While Salah has long since flown the St Jakob Park nest – some sterling performances in the 2013-14 Champions League caught Chelsea’s eye – Elneny remains with Basel and has three Swiss titles to show for his time at the club.

Ahead of the crunch Champions League qualifier with Maccabi, Sport360 sat down with Elneny to discuss his club and international ambitions.

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How are you enjoying life in Switzerland?
Everything is good, I thank God every minute for everything I have right now. My club loves me a lot and treats me well. Basel is a huge club in Europe.

Have your received any offers from any other European clubs?
Yes, some weeks ago I received an offer from the Ukranian side Dynamo Kiev. They want me but Basel’s owner won’t allow me to leave because the team needs me here.

So will you stay at Basel?
Every player has a dream to play in a great club in Europe. I’m happy at Basel right now but also I’m still waiting for the opportunity to be able to play for a big club. I’d love to play for Barcelona one day – it’s my dream!

What was it like to play against Real Madrid and Liverpool in the Champions League last season?
It was a wonderful feeling. At the Bernabeu the atmosphere was beautiful. You feel greatness when you are there. As for Liverpool, it was a fantastic game. I finally had the chance to see Steven Gerrard and played against him on the field. I will always remember this.

Are there any other players who you admire?
In Europe it is Bastian Schweinsteiger of Manchester United, while in Egypt, it would be Ismaily midfielder Hosni Abd Rabo.  

What about Mohamed Salah, have you tracked his progress?
I don’t want to talk about this point but God be with him in his new step.

Elneny (r) and Salah during their time together at Basel.

Egypt haven’t reached a World Cup since 1990, can you do it in 2018?
We’ll do everything to reach the World Cup in Russia. All the team will play and train hard – it is something that must happen for Egypt.

How is Hector Cuper doing as national team coach?
In the Egypt team we love this guy a lot, He’s a great coach, and has a wonderful history with a lot of big clubs. We trust wholeheartedly in Cuper and all have the feeling that we’ll reach the World Cup.

Are there any young Egyptians who could follow you to Europe?
Mostafa Fathi of Zamalek and Ramadan Sobhi of Al Ahly definitely have what it takes to play for European clubs.

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Disputed Christian Benteke goal sinks Bournemouth

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Benteke netted his first EPL goal for Liverpool.

Christian Benteke scored a contentious first Liverpool goal as his team shaded promoted Bournemouth 1-0 at Anfield on Monday to claim their second victory of the Premier League season.

The teams’ first ever league meeting was settled by £32.5 million (Dhs186m) striker Benteke’s 26th-minute strike in front of the Kop, but Bournemouth felt that in attempting to play the ball before it reached his team-mate, Philippe Coutinho had been offside.

Having previously won 1-0 at Stoke City in their opening game, Brendan Rodgers’s Liverpool moved level on points with Manchester City, Leicester City and Manchester United at the top of the two-game table.

As well as Benteke, who later hit the crossbar, Rodgers also gave home debuts to Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner, Joe Gomez and substitute Roberto Firmino, but lost new captain Jordan Henderson to injury early in the second half.

Bournemouth have lost both of their first games, but manager Eddie Howe will have been heartened by the pluck and enterprise shown by his side, who struck the post through the tireless Matt Ritchie in the second period.

The last time Bournemouth had played at Anfield, in an FA Cup replay in January 1968, it was under the banner of Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic, but they were quick to make themselves at home.

 It was the away fans who made all the noise in the early stages and in the fifth minute they thought they had a first ever top-flight goal to celebrate, only for captain Tommy Elphick’s header to be ruled out after he used Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren for leverage.

Playing with a new directness first seen at Stoke on the opening weekend, and with an unchanged team, Liverpool looked to hit Benteke at the earliest opportunity.

The former Aston Villa hitman struggled to make the ball stick, but after lashing wide from the edge of the box, he opened his Liverpool account by stabbing Henderson’s left-wing cross home from close range at the back post.

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The goal, however, should not have stood.

Coutinho made a clear attempt to play the ball in front of visiting goalkeeper Artur Boruc and according to new guidance on the offside rule recently introduced by rule-making body the International Football Association Board, the Brazilian was offside.

For Bournemouth, the goal had the doubly unfortunate effect of galvanising their hosts, who finished the half with a flourish.

Henderson, Steven Gerrard’s successor as skipper, grazed the bar with an improvised shot from distance and was then unfortunate not to win a penalty for a barge by Max-Alain Gradel, while Coutinho curled a loose ball wastefully wide.

Ritchie sought to sound the revolt for Bournemouth with a couple of potshots early in the second half, but although Liverpool lost Henderson to injury, with Emre Can taking his place, they continued to threaten, Milner scuffing wide from Jordon Ibe’s drilled cross.

The visitors refused to be cowed, though, with Ritchie crashing a shot against the outside of the post and Eunan O’Kane ruffling the side-netting.

Recognising the need for an injection of pep, Rodgers sent on Firmino in place of Ibe.

Simon Francis threatened an equaliser with a header that landed on top of the net, but Benteke went even closer at the other end with an effort that hit the bar.

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GALLERY: Biggest transfer sagas that never occurred

Scott 17/08/2015

Rumours have been ongoing all summer about Sergio Ramos transferring to Manchester United. However, he has just signed a whopping five-year contract at the Bernabeu. In testament to this hyped up transfer saga, Sport360 have picked out the biggest rumours in history that never actually materialised…

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