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In Pictures: Mohamed Elneny – From Arab Contractors to Arsenal
When Mohamed Elneny started off as a youth player for Cairo giants Al Ahly not many expected him to one day be playing for current Premier League leaders Arsenal. Following the signing of the Egyptian international midfielder by the Gunners, we take a look at some defining moments in Elneny’s career so far, from Arab Contractors to the English Premier League.
Mohamed Elneny – Humble Beginnings
Mohamed Elneny, pictured here (bottom row, second from left) started off his professional career in humble fashion at Arab Contractors in the Egyptian Premier League. The energetic midfielder made a total of 35 appearance for his side, scoring two goals in the process.
Following a bright start to his professional career, Elneny was chosen as part of Egypt’s squad at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup which was held in Colombia. Elneny was an integral part of the side which managed to make it to the second round, eventually knocked out by Argentina in controversial fashion. Elneny is pictured here on the right in the bottom row of the squad photo.
With momentum on his side Elneny was then included in the squad for the U23 CAF African Cup of Nations, a pivotal tournament for the young Egyptian side who were looking to book a place at the 2012 London Olympics. Elneny again played a vital role in the middle of the park for the Egyptians, helping to guide his side to a third place finish and booking a spot at the London Olympics.
Elneny was then included for the Young Pharaohs side at the 2012 London Olympic games. The Egyptians made it through a tough group containing a star studded Brazil side, New Zealand and Belarus, with Elneny again putting in some glowing performances. Egypt were unfortunately knocked out in the second round against Japan, but Elneny’s potential had been showcased and clubs started to ask questions.
European Adventure Begins
With Egyptian football still struggling in the aftermath of the Port Said tragedy, players were looking to take every opportunity they could to get regular playing time. Moves abroad were common, and following assured displays for his side before the suspension of the league, coupled with some fantastic performances for the Egyptian Olympic team at the London Olympics, Swiss side FC Basel, who had reportedly been monitoring Elneny for quite some time, invited the midfielder to a training camp. Elneny impressed then coach Murat Yakin enough for FC Basel to table a loan offer to Arab Contractors. Elneny then joined the Swiss side on an initial six-month loan deal.
Mohamed Elneny hit the ground running in Switzerland with notable performances in the league for his side as well as featuring heavily in FC Basel’s historic Europa League run, which ended with defeat in the semi-final over two legs against eventual winners Chelsea. With Elneny showing immense potential, FC Basel announced in May of 2013 that they had taken up the option to sign the midfielder on a permanent contract.
Elneny finished as a Swiss league champion in his first season for FC Basel. The Swiss giants comprehensively rounded out the league title whilst also finishing as runners up in the Swiss Cup and semi finalists in the UEFA Europa League.
Elneny entered the 2013/2014 season full of confidence and again added another Swiss title to his collection. The Egyptian featured 32 times for his side in the league, whilst also adding 3 Champions League appearances and 6 Europa League appearances to his tally. Elneny scored one goal during the season, his first for FC Basel, in the 30th round of the league. Above is his celebration after scoring his only goal for the season.
Mohamed Elneny also featured heavily for the Egyptian national team in the 2013/2014 season, being involved in a heart breaking 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign which saw Egypt win every match in the group stage only to stumble to Ghana in a two-legged playoff.
2014/2015 was yet another successful season for FC Basel and was somewhat of a standout year for Elneny. The Egyptian featured in every single one of FC Basel’s Champions league games as he put in solid performances which helped his side to escape one of the toughest groups in the competition after being drawn against Liverpool, Real Madrid and Schalke.
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) July 22, 2015
Elneny finished off the season with another Swiss league title in his pocket, with FC Basel winning their sixth Championship in a row. Basel however, were not able to complete the double, finishing as runners up in the Swiss cup for the third season in a row, somewhat of a curse which Elneny was never able to break during his time in Switzerland.
This season has been somewhat of a mixed bag for FC Basel, but for Elneny it has been nothing short of incredible. After failing to make the Champions League following a qualifying round loss against Maccabi Tel Aviv, Basel were relegated to the Europa League. Elneny was amazing for his side, putting in a number of Man of the Match performances for his side against Fiorentina, with his strike against the Florence based side in the away leg saying it all. An absolute scorcher, it was testament to Elneny’s development over the past few seasons, with shooting from distance becoming a real attribute for the Pharaoh.
With multiple goals in the Europa League as well as the Swiss League under his belt this season, Elneny has also been able to show his goalscoring qualities on the international stage, notably with a goal against Chad in a crucial 4-0 win over the African minnows. By this stage, a move to a bigger club was just around the corner, with rumours of multiple European suitors interested.
After weeks of murmurs surrounding Elneny’s future, Arsenal today announced the signing of the Pharaoh, with Elneny becoming the first Egyptian international to play for the Gunners and now only Egyptian player currently playing in the English Premier League. With Arsenal currently sitting atop of the league standings there is a real chance we could see Elneny with some silverware this season. From the junior ranks at Al Ahly, to Arab Contractors, FC Basel and now Arsenal, it has been a fairytale story so far for Elneny, and at only 23 years of age, there is so much more to come!