Arsene Wenger may deploy Mohamed Elneny at centre back on a more permanent basis.
Elneny has featured more at centre back than in his preferred midfield during pre-season due to a shortage of defenders and has seemingly given Wenger a new idea.
“Elneny is a player who has a fantastic mentality and attitude, and his main target is to help the team. When he plays there, of course he does extremely well,” Wenger said, as reported by the Daily Mail.
“I always felt that a good central midfielder can be a good centre back. With the fact of course that when you’re playing in the back four you have to be decisive in the challenges, you have a bit more flexibility in the middle of a back three. He can do that.”
The Egyptian didn’t too badly while playing in the middle of a back three. He was always comfortable in possession and helped Arsenal pass out from the back. Being able to play a second position will also help him get more first team football at Arsenal.
Curiously, Wenger’s words imply that he has Elneny in his plans for this upcoming season, despite reports suggesting Arsenal were willing to let him leave for Leicester City.
Elneny reportedly rejected the move, while there are whispers of Galatasaray talking with Arsenal about him.
It’s possible this talk of using Elneny more as a defender is Wenger attempting to find a way to give him more games.
In an ideal world, he wouldn’t have to play there. However, Koscielny is becoming more injury prone, Gabriel remains out with an injury (expected back in a few weeks) and Mertesacker can’t be expected to play every week. That could put a lot of strain on Holding and Mustafi, while Wenger would surely prefer to avoid using Monreal or Kolasinac as centre backs too often.
Wenger also has a history of changing his players’ positions, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Elneny did play more as a defender.