Who is Mohamed El-Nenny and how would he suit Arsenal?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
London bound? Basel's Mohamed El-Nenny.

Recently, Swiss, English and Egyptian newspapers have flooded with reports that Arsenal have agreed a fee with FC Basel for Egyptian international Mohamed El-Nenny.

El-Nenny’s story is interesting as he was never really a star in Egypt. Like former FC Basel star and current AS Roma forward Mohamed Salah, El-Nenny started his professional career at Arab Contractors, a smaller club with a relatively successful local scouting network, after leaving Al Ahly’s youth team at the age of 16.

He spent two seasons at Arab Contractors, becoming a regular starter for his team in the 2010/2011 season. Unluckily for him during his second season as a regular starter, the tragic Port Said disaster occurred and the Egyptian Premier League stopped amidst an unsettling political situation.

– Premier League: January transfer window watch
– Serie A: January transfer window watch

– Bundesliga: January transfer window watch
– Ligue 1: January transfer window watch
– La Liga: January transfer window watch

At that time, El-Nenny’s name was becoming much more familiar to Egyptian fans and he was linked with a move to Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek. Swiss league club FC Basel scouts however were able to take advantage of the situation.

With the local league halted and Egyptian footballers without regular competition, it was not that hard for FC Basel to convince the player to join the Swiss club. El-Nenny signed a loan deal alongside Mohamed Salah and the pair began a successful journey of development in Switzerland.

Since then, Mohamed Salah immediately filled the void left by Xherdan Shaqiri’s transfer to Bayern Munich and constantly dominated headlines for the Swiss club with his electric pace and a steady return of goals. His development has seen him transfer to Chelsea, loaned out to Fiorentina and now finally settled with Serie A contenders AS Roma.

In contrast, El-Nenny continues to make strides forward in Switzerland in a midfield position that certainly earns less praise than a forward’s but also where you cannot hide. With that said, his continual improvement deserves similar mention.

Mohamed El-Nenny came to Switzerland as a rather raw talent but what continues to be his outstanding attribute is his stamina and energy. During his time with Sky Sports, Gary Neville did a segment on Monday Night Football questioning why Arsène Wenger strayed away from a recruitment policy in the mould of Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Gilberto Silva. Mohamed El-Nenny can’t claim to be a bulky, towering midfield pivot, but he possesses other physical qualities to compensate.

Despite standing at a rather average height and build, the midfielder has never had a problem working in the engine room as he is able to cover a lot of ground and is constantly seen finishing a game stronger than others from the 75th to the 90th minute. In last season’s Champions League, he was one of only four players to cover over 80 km after 7 games.

His injury record is also quite impressive which will come as a relief to Arsenal fans. He is a robust athlete who is constantly available for Basel which hopefully translates positively to England’s tough schedule.

Having started his career at a rather young age, the midfielder has also benefited from being a regular starter at FC Basel and has plenty of experience under his belt. El-Nenny is approaching 100 league appearances for the Swiss champions and 40 appearances for the Egypt national team.

This know-how in addition to his ability to marshall the field without fading has bridged his confidence to new levels recently and allows him the comfort to compete at a high level in the Champions League. The midfielder fared quite well against Liverpool and a star-studded Real Madrid last season when they were drawn in the same group.

In fact, Basel were able to qualify to the Round of 16 in European competition at the expense of the Merseyside club, and the Egyptian anchored the midfield for all 6 matches.

Despite this, the Egyptian’s settling into the Gunners’ midfield will depend on two key areas.

El-Nenny is a reliable passer of the ball and boasts a passing percentage of 92.4% in the Europa League this season according to WhoScored. However it has to be said that there is room for improvement technically if he is to be fit in a midfield trio with midfielders like Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil.

Arsenal boasts one of the silkiest midfields in Europe and their world-class players possess the ability to both dribble and pass the ball out of immense pressure through intelligent movement and cohesion. Wenger often cites that transfer targets need to be of extraordinary quality in order to improve on his current squad, however the Frenchman is also known for spotting talent that can be polished and nurtured to reach new heights.

Without a doubt, El-Nenny will have to find that extra gear in his touch, composure on the ball and distribution in order to impose himself in the starting line-up regularly, but he has the right environment and the perfect manager behind him to see him reach those goals.

El-Nenny is a player that seems to be able to play up to the ability of those around him. He will improve quickly and benefit immensely from training regularly at London Colney.

Plainly put, the fact that El-Nenny has found himself amongst the goals this season, especially at club level, could be a problem for the Egyptian unless he understands his role quickly.

With Coquelin injured and no other player who quite fills his shoes, the position that Arsène Wenger needs filled most urgently is that of a defensive midfielder. Although I believe it unwise to focus too much on comparing players, it’s hard not to notice the similarity between Aaron Ramsey and the Egyptian.

The Welshman’s goalscoring success in the 2013/2014 season clearly still plays on his mind and spurs him to use his great stamina to get forward and score goals.

Similarly, El-Nenny’s recent success with long-distance shots and late-runs into the box will have to be managed and tailored to Wenger’s vision of his role. Just as Francis Coquelin had to completely simplify his game by excelling at interceptions, tackles and neat distribution in order to break into the Arsenal midfield, El-Nenny will have to recognize his strong attributes and showcase them in exceptional fashion to continue being a regular starter.

He has already been asked to play this role under Héctor Cúper in the national team. With the Pharaohs almost always playing with two traditional number “9” strikers in a 4-4-2 formation, and wingers Kahraba and Omar Gaber given license to get forward and provide service from wide areas, Cúper often asks El-Nenny and a midfield partner to sit deep and compensate to the defensive balance of the team.

This is El-Nenny’s opportunity to play this role at a higher standard in the English Premier League and the Champions League.

Arsène Wenger is known to be hesitant to do his transfer business early, especially in the January transfer window.

However, following the painful week that saw the established midfield pair of Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla sustain long-term knee injuries, Mikel Arteta’s inability to stay fit as well as the continued absence of Jack Wilshere, Wenger may see qualities in El-Nenny that can fill the void in the heart of the Gunners’ midfield.

Michael Saad writes for Egyptian football website KingFut.com

Most popular

Toure and Aguero help City stun Watford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Back with a bang: Sergio Aguero.

Manchester City maintained their Premier League title challenge after ending their away-day blues with a stirring late comeback that saw them win 2-1 at Watford on Saturday.

Two goals in as many minutes from talismans Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero kept City in touch at the top of the table when it appeared that they were destined for defeat.

Aleksandar Kolarov had headed Ben Watson’s corner into his own net and the visitors were struggling for ideas before Toure and Aguero struck in quick succession to steal victory.

– Premier League: January transfer window watch
– Serie A: January transfer window watch
– Bundesliga: January transfer window watch
– Ligue 1: January transfer window watch
– La Liga: January transfer window watch

It was City’s first win on the road since September 12 and kept them three points behind leaders Arsenal.

Despite the shadow of Pep Guardiola looming large over Manuel Pellegrini, the Manchester City manager has been tipped by his Watford counterpart Quique Sanchez Flores to win the league title.

Whether the Chilean will still in be in charge at the Etihad Stadium come next season, with or without winning the championship, remains to be seen. But his team find themselves playing catch-up after a woeful away run that had seen them collect just three points from their previous six games on the road.

They knew they could ill-afford a repeat failure against a Watford side who have surprised many this season. But Almen Abdi, one of the few Watford goal-scorers this season other than the prolific pairing of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, sounded an early warning when he drove just over within two minutes.

Ighalo almost began the new year how he had ended 2015 when he came close to scoring for the seventh game in succession in the 13th minute.

The Nigerian striker’s clever turn saw him wriggle clear of Nicolas Otamendi, but his low shot was kept out by Joe Hart’s outstretched foot.

City boast a plethora of attacking options, but were struggling to find any fluency or provide Aguero with any service.

However, the Argentine striker was inches away from handing the visitors a 19th-minute lead when he narrowly failed to connect with a header after Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes repelled a shot by Kevin De Bruyne.

The visitors were slowly finding their feet, Fernando seeing his close-range shot blocked by Gomes following David Silva’s slaloming run. But it was Watford who ended the half on top and almost began the second half by drawing first blood inside 90 seconds.

Watson, who scored a sensational FA Cup final winner against City for old club Wigan Athletic in 2013, almost caught Hart out with a shot that the England goalkeeper had to parry at his near post.

Fernando threatened again when he headed over Silva’s 51st-minute corner, but it was Watford who went ahead moments later via a corner of their own.

Watson whipped a wicked delivery towards the near post and Kolarov contrived to glance the ball past a helpless Hart and into the net. A sixth defeat of the league campaign beckoned for City, but belatedly the big-spending visitors began to move through the gears.

Toure blazed over from De Bruyne’s cut-back and then the Belgian winger forced a low save out of Gomes in the 70th minute as Pellegrini’s men looked to crank up the pressure.

Watford withstood the initial flurry of attacks and could have wrapped up the win if Etienne Capoue had not blazed wildly over following a surging run with 10 minutes remaining.

And it proved costly as Toure’s superb first-time volley from Kolarov’s 82nd-minute corner hauled the visitors level. Two minutes later the turnaround was complete.

Bacary Sagna’s inviting cross from the right found the unmarked Aguero, who headed home his 10th goal of the season.

Most popular

EPL round-up: Laurent Koscielny sends Arsenal clear

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Savior: Laurent Koscielny (r).

Laurent Koscielny scored as Arsenal edged Newcastle United 1-0 on Saturday to pull two points clear of Leicester City at the top of the Premier League table.

Koscielny stabbed home a flick-on from France team-mate Olivier Giroud in the 72nd minute at a rain-lashed Emirates Stadium and Leicester were held 0-0 by Bournemouth, with Riyad Mahrez squandering a penalty.

Manchester City, third, can close to within a point of Leicester if they win at Watford later on Saturday. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney scored as Manchester United ended an eight-game winless run by beating Swansea City 2-1.

– Premier League: January transfer window watch
– Serie A: January transfer window watch
– Bundesliga: January transfer window watch
– Ligue 1: January transfer window watch
– La Liga: January transfer window watch

Arsenal were bidding to build on the 2-0 win over Bournemouth that had sent them top of the table, but Newcastle squandered several opportunities to go ahead.

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech had to produce smart saves to thwart Giorginio Wijnaldum either side of half-time, while Aleksandar Mitrovic diverted a volleyed cross from Ayoze Perez over the bar from close range.

With the home fans growing restless, Koscielny supplied the breakthrough 18 minutes from time, sneaking in behind Perez to toe the ball past Rob Elliot after Giroud had got his head to a high ball.

Leicester have now gone three league games without winning after their stalemate against 10-man Bournemouth at the King Power Stadium.

Jamie Vardy hit the post in the first half and was then fouled by Simon Francis in an incident that saw the Bournemouth defender sent off and yielded Leicester’s 60th-minute penalty.

But for once this season Mahrez’s radar betrayed him, the Algerian’s penalty parried by Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

At Old Trafford, Rooney scored a milestone winner against Swansea, which made him the second-highest outright goal-scorer in both Premier League (188 goals) and United (238) history.

Anthony Martial headed United in front from Ashley Young’s right-wing cross early in the second half, only for Gylfi Sigurdsson to draw Swansea level in the 70th minute from a Modou Barrow cross.

But Rooney converted a cut-back from Martial with a sumptuous near-post back-heel 13 minutes from time as United claimed a first win in seven league games to further ease the pressure on manager Louis van Gaal.

The result lifted United to fifth place, two points below Tottenham Hotspur, who visit Everton on Sunday. West Ham United are a point back in sixth after Michael Antonio and Andy Carroll scored headed goals in a 2-0 home win over Liverpool.

Aston Villa spurned another chance to close on safety after losing 3-1 at second-bottom Sunderland, with Jermain Defoe scoring twice to leave Remi Garde’s side seven points adrift at the foot of the table.

Patrick van Aanholt put Sunderland in front with a deflected effort and Villa were momentarily level courtesy of a brilliant Carles Gil volley in the 63rd minute, only for Defoe to net twice in the last 18 minutes.

Jonny Evans’s stoppage-time goal earned West Bromwich Albion a last-gasp 2-1 win over Stoke City, who had Geoff Cameron sent off after an altercation with Claudio Yacob.

Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama was dismissed as Southampton went down 1-0 at Norwich City, where Alexander Tettey scored a 76th-minute winner.

Most popular