Arsene Wenger has come to the defence of Mohamed Elneny after the midfielder was shipped out on loan by Unai Emery.

Arsenal's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny (L) vies with Napoli's French-born Algerian midfielder Adam Ounas during the UEFA Europa League quarter final, first leg, football match between Arsenal and Napoli at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 11, 2019. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP)
Arsenal’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny (L) vies with Napoli’s French-born Algerian midfielder Adam Ounas during the UEFA Europa League quarter final, first leg, football match between Arsenal and Napoli at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 11, 2019. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP)

Mohamed Elneny played just 379 minutes of league football under Unai Emery and 1,013 in total across all competitions as the Spaniard made it clear the Egyptian wasn’t in his plans.

It’s not hard to understand why. Elneny has never been more than a seven-out-of-ten player. Solid, reliable, dull. He was rarely going to do anything spectacularly brilliant, nor stupid.

He was, of course, an £11.25m Arsene Wenger signing, arriving in the winter window of 2016 from FC Basel. Under the Frenchman, he played 72 times, scoring twice and assisting seven times.

Now at Besiktas, for the season at least, he looks happy:

“Elneny is a very strong and active player. He’s a player with a modern style of play and that always gives his best for his team. Elneny is a very tactically-useful player,” Wenger told beIN SPORTS.

“He is very active inside the pitch and what strikes me the most is how he protects his team.

“His input within the team is great, not in terms of goal creation because he’s not the type to have the final touch before the goal. But because of how helpful he is in the build-up.

“Elneny’s style of play adds protection to the team,” Wenger added.

There is no doubt about any of that. Elneny is a hard worker who gives all he has. He’s strong, mobile, and focused. He’s also not that good when he does have the ball, a less bonkers Francis Coquelin, if you will.

I’ve no doubt Elneny will go on to enjoy his career at a decent level, but we don’t want decent at Arsenal any more.

We want good.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.