Soccer

Mikel Arteta risks making familiar mistake as Arsenal make Mohamed Elneny U-turn

Mikel Arteta outlines aims after signing new Arsenal contract

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Arsenal are reportedly set to hold talks with Mohamed Elneny over a new contract. Elneny’s current deal is set to expire at the end of the season but his form in recent weeks has led to a U-turn by the club.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has always publicly stated his admiration for the Egyptian, whom he briefly lined up alongside during his last few months as a player in 2016. But it was expected the midfielder was set to leave on a free transfer this summer.

However, the Athletic claims Arsenal are now determined to keep hold of Elneny. Arteta sees his experience and character as a vital part of his squad.

But Arteta must be wary of handing out a long-term deal to a 29-year-old. Elneny turns 30 in July and Arsenal have been bitten in the recent past by handing out long contracts to players of a similar age.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s new contract turned out to be a disaster for the club. There is no inclination that Arteta could fall out with Elneny like he did with his former captain.

If there was any doubt in Arteta’s mind over Elneny’s professionalism then a new contract would not even be considered. Not many people will know Elneny better than Arteta having had him as a team-mate and now his coach.

He is also not among the higher earners at the club and that would remain the case with a new deal, so the risk is less in that regard. Elneny will never be the first name on a team sheet for Arsenal.

However, Arteta knows he can rely on him when needed. Thomas Partey’s injury was untimely at a crucial part of the season.

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Albert Sambi Lokonga stepped in for a couple of matches but was unable to take his opportunity. Elneny came into the team at Chelsea on April 20 for his first Premier League start since the 3-2 loss to Manchester United on December 2.

He has played every minute since and arguably been one of the better performers in a tricky run of games. When Partey is unavailable or needs to be rotated, especially with the addition of European football next season, Elneny is just the man for Arteta.

Arsenal still need to sign a midfielder this summer and Elneny is not the answer long term. But in every squad there are unsung heroes and he is certainly proving to be one of them.

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