Friday,17 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1279, (21 - 27 January 2016)
Friday,17 August, 2018
Issue 1279, (21 - 27 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly

The newest Gunner

Egypt’s Al-Nenni finally completes his dream move to English giants Arsenal, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

After a few legalities regarding a work permit and reported issues with military service back in Egypt, Basel star Mohamed Al-Nenni finally completed his move to title contenders and English powerhouse Arsenal.

The move has been on the cards for weeks which added more spice and excitement among Egyptian fans who are surely and understandably delighted to see an Egyptian star moving to a club like Arsenal, aka The Gunners, under a legendary manager like Arsene Wenger who knows how to get the best out of young players like Al-Nenni.

Al-Nenni has been signed mainly to provide much needed cover in central midfield, both now and in the future, with the likes of Arteta and Flamini set to leave in the summer when their contracts expire. The team is currently short in this position as Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Coquelin are all out injured with neither of them nearing a comeback.

Al-Nenni is a versatile player who could play across the midfield for the Premier League leaders, but it is likely that his arrival is to offer support to Coquelin as an extra defensive midfielder even though our Egyptian star is more of a box to box midfielder unlike the Frenchman who’s more of a defensive midfielder.

Al-Nenni will surely need time to adjust to the hysterical speed of English football, but having only turned 23 in July, there would be plenty of time for development especially under the management of Wenger. Even superstars like Luis Suarez, Alexis Sanchez, David Silva and many others took some time before turning into star men for their teams.

As of writing, Arsenal were in third place in the Premiership with 43 points from 21 games, one point behind leaders Leicester but with a game in hand.

With the team currently fighting on all fronts, Al-Nenni could find himself playing very soon as Wenger is well known for playing his young guns in the cups. Al-Nenni could even take part on the bench for this week’s game against Stoke City away from home but it’s unlikely that Wenger would play him in such a difficult game.

The following league game is a tricky one as well because Arsenal face Chelsea at home even though their campaigns are going in completely different directions. Chelsea, the defending championship, is shockingly only six points away from relegation.

If Al-Nenni fails to take part in any of the two games he’ll certainly play against Burnley at the Emirates.

The English media is tipping Al-Nenni to be a future star for Wenger’s team and paid tribute to his unbelievable rise from the bottom to his dream of playing in one of Europe’s top teams.

Al-Nenni himself is somehow in denial, refusing to believe he has signed with a club like Arsenal and vowed to give his all to succeed at his new club. “It is one of the biggest clubs in the world. I know everything about it and its players,” he said. “It is an indescribable feeling. I am really glad, of course. Arsenal is one of the world’s greatest teams, and I am very keen to participate positively with my new team, God willing, and to give my best for the team and for myself.”

“Mr Wenger is a highly respected manager and one of the world’s best. It is my honour to be trained under his management. I would like to tell [the fans] that, although you have not seen much of me, I promise I will contribute positively with the team. I am hoping that we win the Premier League and cup this season, and the Champions League as well.”

Wenger is confident that his new signing will settle down quickly and have an immediate impact on his team after achieving so much at such a young age with Swiss club Basel. “Overall I believe he will be a good addition to the squad,” said Wenger. “First he has not come in straight to a big club. He had an intermediate stay in Europe so the adaptation is less of a question mark.

“He is 23 years old and has already got Champions League, Europa League and Swiss League experience. He is a player who is adaptable in midfield. He can play box to box and be a holding midfielder, so that is for us very promising. We wanted a versatile player and I wanted a player who can play defensive but can as well play box to box.

“His strengths are his technical level, his vision, his intelligence, his disciplined attitude and his physical attitude to compete at a high level. I think he has the physical qualities to play at the top level.”

These were Wenger’s words about his new star that Egyptian fans hope will be luckier than his closest friend Mohamed Salah who could not make it big at Chelsea and left the English club to join Fiorentina on loan and then Roma on a permanent basis last summer.

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