Why did we buy Mohamed Elneny?
That was the question I think we were all starting to ask ourselves last season.
Arsenal’s form was in a hole, and the functioning of our midfield absolutely woeful. Meanwhile, Elneny had had a great African Cup of Nations, yet could barely get a minute on the pitch. He was allowed just three starts in the rest of the campaign following his return, and while that was partly restricted by injury and the emergence of the Xhaka-Ramsey partnership, it didn’t bode well for Mo.
When he arrived from Basel in January 2016, for a fee rumoured to be about £5m [but turned out to be just over £10m], hopes were high for the Egyptian. The much-vaunted Coqzorla partnership had not so much floundered as died an injury-forsaken death, and Gunners fans were being treated to the delightful combination of Ramsey and Flamini.
Sixteen appearances in all competitions in that first half-season were enough to see him win our goal of the season award with a screamer against Barcelona, and probably more impressively the unlikely accolades of the press.
Positionally disciplined, tactically astute and mobile, our energetic, athletic midfielder looked like the real deal for a bargain basement price.
I remember being so excited that we had signed Elneny, after the summer of 2015 where not a single outfield player arrived and the ensuing declining state of our midfield into a battleground hospital. We needed a player, we signed a player. Sorted.
The arrival of Granit Xhaka somewhat changed things.