By Russell Edge
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has stated that defensive midfielder Mohamed Elneny may be moved into a centre-back role this season.
The Egyptian international, who has been a fringe player at Arsenal since his arrival in January 2016, has always been utilised in the centre of the park during competitive matches for the Gunners.
However, the 25-year-old has seen himself used as part of a back three during the club’s pre-season friendlies, as a host of issues have forced manager Wenger’s hand into making the switch.
Elneny has impressed in his new role, and the French boss has indicated that he could become a more permanent feature at the back.
He states that the midfielder’s quality in his natural role coupled with his mentality and temperament sets him up to be a successful defender.
Speaking to the press, Wenger was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: “I played players like Elneny in a back three and he has coped very well.
“I always felt that a good central midfielder can be a good centre back.
“Elneny is a player who has a fantastic mentality and attitude, and his main target is to help the team. When he plays there, of course he does extremely well.”
“When you’re playing in the back four you have to be decisive in the challenges, you have a bit more flexibility in the middle of a back three. He can do that.”
The move will come a surprise to many, with the Egyptian never having been utilised in the role prior to the club’s pre-season preparation this summer.
He has made a total of 40 appearances for Arsenal, 24 of those coming last season, while he also has 55 caps for Egypt.
However Elneny’s future at the club is not certain, with a report claiming that the Gunners have met with the sporting director of Galatasaray regarding a transfer for the versatile player.
Wenger’s other centre-back options include Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel Paulista, Rob Holding and Per Mertesacker, but it appears they have another contender for a place in the starting XI.
In other Arsenal news, the agent of a wantaway forward flew into London to hold talks with the Gunners over a transfer.