An £8 million bid from the Gunners saw Arsenal capture their first transfer of the 2016 winter transfer window and it comes from Switzerland as they have snapped up Egyptian defensive midfielder Mohamed Elneny from FC Basel. Arsene Wenger commented on Elneny's strengths as 'his technical level, his vision, his intelligence, his disciplined attitude and his physical attitude to compete at a high level.''
Why have Arsenal brought him in?
This comes at a crucial time for for Arsene Wenger with his side suffering various injuries, in midfield in particular, where Elneny plays his preferred position. The Gunners have called upon the likes of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin, Mathieu Flamini and Santi Cazorla to act as the deepest lying midfield player at various points throughout the season. However, each of the players has spent considerable time on the treatment table this season and made it difficult for Arsenal to establish the consistency that would help make their title challenge a much greater likelihood. Coquelin has looked the most suited to the role, but has only just returned to full training and could need some additional time before he's ready to start each week.
Arsenal have 16 more matches in the Premier League season, a Fourth Round FA Cup match against Burnley this week and will play the defending European champions Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie next month. While Wenger may have all his midfielders available to call on by then, the match against Burnley and the next three matches in the Premier League will be vital to Arsenal's end of season goals. The Egyptian midfielder could be the player to help them continue their challenge on multiple fronts.
Is Elneny worth consideration in your fantasy team?
With the number of matches coming up for Arsenal and the eventual return to fitness of a number of central midfielders, you can expect a lot of rotation, so it may be a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Elneny, who has yet to break into the first team ahead of Mathieu Flamini.
For Basel, Elneny had quite a bit of fantasy upside as he took some set pieces and penalties, which he will not have at Arsenal. However, Elneny possesses a bit more of an attacking flair than either Flamini or the returning Coquelin, and could find himself used alongside one of them or on his own depending on Wenger's preference for the match. If he breaks into the first team, he could cement a starting role given that at 23 he's probably not a player that Arsenal have brought in to spend time developing.
Skills videos can be misleading, so here is an every-touch video of his performance against Real Madrid in the Champions League, where you can get an idea of how he performs against some of the top competition in the world:
What are the risks of buying in?
With so many options potentially available and so many competitions Arsenal is still competing in, it's difficult to know when Elneny will be included as part of the starting lineup in the Premier League. Of course, given their record with holding midfielders, there's always the possibility for an injury to the Egyptian as well, but hopefully for Gunners fans he'll be able to solve what has been a major problem area for the past few seasons for the North London club.
At the moment, it's still early days to know whether he'll be an option in any fantasy format but given his achievements for Basel and also for the Egyptian national team, he could be a key factor in helping Arsenal achieve their first Premier League title in 12 years.