Ian Wright picked out Mohamed Elneny for criticism following Arsenal’s excellent win over Leicester.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28: Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal is closed down by Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Arsenal at The King Power Stadium on February 28, 2021 in Leicester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LEICESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 28: Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal is closed down by Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Arsenal at The King Power Stadium (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

That Mohamed Elneny is still an Arsenal player will remain one of life’s little mysteries. It’s not that Elneny is a bad player, he’s just not a great one either. As I’ve said before, he’s generally reliable but will rarely do anything spectacular.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leads the Gabon team out (Photo via Federation Gabonaise de Football on Facebook)

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Against Leicester, Elneny was a started, playing 66 minutes before being replaced by Thomas Partey, who is still making his way back from injury.

Speaking about the game, Ian Wright picked Elneny out for criticism over Leicester’s goal.

“Slack marking. It’s just slack play. Elneny has to come across at some stage but Tielemans goes through and you have to give him credit, he is in total control of what he is doing,” Wright told Optus Sport.

“But he [Elneny] has to comes across. Jamie Vardy is taken, he can see that.

“You want to keep it as tight as you can but because of a silly mistake, and poor concentration, they are 1-0 down. It could have been avoided,” he added.

Elneny still has another year to run on his Arsenal contract and, while it would seem sensible to think he will be on his way this summer, I wouldn’t go putting any money on it.

Will Mohamed Elneny leave Arsenal?

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: James Tarkowski of Burnley argues with Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Burnley at Emirates Stadium on December 13, 2020 in London, England. A limited number of spectators (2000) are welcomed back to stadiums to watch elite football across England. This was following easing of restrictions on spectators in tiers one and two areas only. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Turkish outlet Aksam (via KingFut) reported that Besiktas were looking to re-sign Mohamed Elneny in January on a permanent deal, planning a €7m bid. The Super Lig club took the Arsenal midfielder on loan last season and he had a strong campaign.

Chris Wheatley, however, denied the claims. He wrote on Twitter that Elneny to Besiktas is ‘not happening this month’, adding that the midfielder is happy at Arsenal and Mikel Arteta has no plans to sell him.

‘No plans to sell him.’

Elneny has been a regular feature of Arteta’s sides this season. He’s made 28 appearances, 21 of them starts, featuring in 58% of Arsenal’s Premier League fixtures.

It’s worth noting the circumstances that allowed that to happen. Thomas Partey’s injury problems and Granit Xhaka’s red card have forced Arteta’s hand at times.

That’s not to say Elneny hasn’t earned his starts by consistently working hard for the team. You’d just expect €50m-signing Partey to take his place once he’s fit again.

All the same, it doesn’t seem like Elneny is ready to give up and move on just yet.

Arteta plays down Elneny contract extension talk

In November, Mikel Arteta said Arsenal are taking things ‘step by step’ with Mohamed Elneny, amid media rumours of a contract extension.

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) celebrates with Arsenal's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny (R) at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 1, 2020. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)
Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) celebrates with Mohamed Elneny (R) on November 1, 2020. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)
Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) celebrates with Arsenal's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny (R) at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 1, 2020. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)

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In November, the Daily Mail reported that Arsenal were preparing to discuss a contract extension with Mohamed Elneny, after his strong start to the season.

Admittedly, the Mail’s report was a bit dodgy. At one point, they wrote that Elneny’s deal “is currently poised to expire at the end of this campaign”, but later say it “expires at the end of next season”.

When Elneny signed the deal, the Mirror, the Evening Standard, talkSPORT and others reported it ran to 2022. Plus, Mikel Arteta suggested in his pre-Molde press conference that they’re taking things slow with the midfielder.

“Let’s go step by step please,” Arteta responded to Elneny contract questions. “What I can say is that I am really pleased with the player and everything that he is doing and hopefully he can continue like that and perform really well throughout the season.”

Elneny is already up to nine appearances this season, playing the full 90 minutes in all but one of those games. In November, when the report was published, only four players in the squad had made more appearances, and only three had played more minutes.

Since then, however, Elneny has dropped down to ninth in terms of minutes played this season, behind (in order of most minutes) Bernd Leno, Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kieran Tierney, and Nicolas Pepe.

However, only five players (Leno, Saka, Xhaka, Laca and Pepe) have featured in more matches than Elneny’s 28 at the time of writing.

Of the three games Elneny missed, Arsenal lost two. So it’s no real surprise the fans are starting to warm to him again, despite largely expecting him to leave over the summer. Winning away at Old Trafford helps too.

Let’s hope that good feeling lasts with more positive performances in the coming weeks.

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 01: Matteo Guendouzi of Hertha BSC is challenged by Felix Klaus of VfL Wolfsburg during the Bundesliga match between Hertha BSC and VfL Wolfsburg at Olympiastadion on November 01, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

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STUTTGART, GERMANY: Shkodran Mustafi (L) and Sead Kolasinac of Schalke walk out of the tunnel to warm up for the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and FC Schalke 04 at Mercedes-Benz Arena on February 27, 2021. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

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STUTTGART, GERMANY: Omar Mascarell, Timo Becker, Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi of FC Schalke 04 react during the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and FC Schalke 04 at Mercedes-Benz Arena on February 27, 2021. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

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