By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes| Premier League expert with experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this
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Arsenal’s pursuit of Mohamed Elneny has been complicated by “work permit problems”, Arsene Wenger revealed on Monday.
The Gunners had been confident of complete the signing of the Egyptian midfielder last week after he had agreed the terms of a four-and-a-half-year contract with Arsenal worth £65,000-a-week and the Gunners’ bid of £5.2million was accepted by Basle.
Speaking at his media briefing on Monday morning, Wenger admitted that the deal had not been finalised as quickly as he had hoped.
“We are positive this week it can happen,” the Arsenal manager said. “There are a lot of work permit problems and other paperwork. As long as it’s not definitely signed, you have to be cautious. But I’m optimistic about the case.”
Wenger had said last Thursday that he expected the signing to be completed within “two to three days”.
The midfielder underwent a medical in Paris a fortnight ago and said his goodbyes to Basle team-mates at the start of last week.
For some time, the only remaining hurdle to the deal being formalised is that the 23-year-old Egyptian must wait for clearance on a work permit.
Wenger is confident that Elneny, who has won 40 caps for the Egypt national team, will eventually be given the green light to complete the protracted transfer.
Wenger has sanctioned an early January move for a central midfielder after long-term injuries robbed him of the services of first-choice pair Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla until at least March and possibly longer.
With Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta out of contract next summer, and Jack Wilshere still absent through injury, Wenger has given the go ahead to land Elneny.
Elneny fits the bill for Arsenal because of his pedigree, ability to play in a number of midfield positions and relatively good value.
He joined Basle, initially on loan, in January 2013 and has won three consecutive Swiss league titles with the club.