Arsenal legend Gilberto Silva has claimed that out-of-favour Gunners midfielder Mohamed Elneny “resembled” him and Gunners icon Patrick Vieira, in conversation with France Football.
The Egypt international has made just 46 appearances for Arsenal since joining from Swiss side FC Basel in 2016 for a reported £7million (The Independent).
Elneny has largely played a bit-part role under former managers Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery before being shipped out on loan to Besiktas at the start of the 2019-20 season.
Since Silva’s departure, the Gunners haven’t really had a tough, steely midfielder in the same mould.
However, the Brazilian – who played alongside Vieira at Arsenal before ultimately replacing him in the engine room – thinks the 27-year-old could have been the closest candidate.
“In the last few years, the situation has been difficult at Arsenal,” Silva told France Football.
“They have very similar players in midfield, with profiles that resemble each other and not really players of the profile of Patrick Vieira, or even my profile. The only individual who resembled [us], that could have been Mohamed Elneny, but he didn’t play.
“But they have not really had those types of players to cover the defensive midfield position. Arsenal always plays positively, trying to deploy an attacking game, and it is not easy to find someone to marry the ability to play the forward game and to do the work in the shadows in the defensive phases.”
Given Silva was a truly superb player for Arsenal and played alongside the great Vieira for the Gunners, he is well qualified to know what makes a great midfielder.
That said, some Arsenal fans may well scoff at his comments regarding Elneny, whose time at the Emirates Stadium hasn’t exactly been the most fruitful.
Elneny is contracted to the Gunners until the summer of 2022 but given Besiktas have the option to buy (Transfermarkt), it remains to be seen whether he will even be available for Mikel Arteta to try out next season.