Although Mo Salah understandably gets most of the headlines in media like Bet365 alternative links, there is another Egyptian footballer who has even greater longevity in Premier League terms than the “King of Anfield.”
Despite several times being on the verge of leaving Arsenal, the club he joined from FC Basel in January 2016, Mohamed Elneny remains part of the furniture in North London.
Much has changed in the intervening years. Elneny has lived through the end of the Arsène Wenger era, seen the club struggle in the intervening period under Unai Emery, caretaker Freddie Ljungberg, and then initially under Mikel Arteta.
Abd now with the club seemingly on the up again under the Spaniard, Elneny is not only one of the few constants in the dressing room, he is also becoming something of a survivor. He may only be 30 years old himself, but, in a squad where the average age is the youngest in the Premier League, he is almost a greybeard.
Not that he has always been appreciated in North London. He spent the 2019 – 2020 season on loan in Turkey with Beşiktaş, and many expected him to depart the Emirates permanently after that.
Instead he returned to fight for his place, content to bide his time and wait for his opportunity. And, when another African midfielder, Ghanaian Thomas Partey, was injured in the second half of the last campaign, the man that Arteta automatically turned to as his replacement was Elneny.
As well documented in the recent Amazon prime series “All or Nothing”, his efforts were not enough for the Gunners as they narrowly missed out on a top four place, and Champions League football.
Despite that, the club had seen enough to offer him a new contract of a further year, with an option of a further 12 months.
Again, he began the new season on the bench, but, when Partey was injured again, it was Elneny who made his first appearance of the Premier League season in the win against Fulham.
Afterwards, most commentators agreed that it had been a typical Elneny performance – steady and unspectacular, without taking many risks. That has come to define the Egyptian during his time in England. He rarely has a bad game but, by the same token, seldom has he produced a match winning performance.
However, his virtue is that he is the ultimate team player, happy to come in and do a job when required, but not one who will kick up a fuss when left out of the team.
And in a profession where the headlines are too often grabbed by prima donnas, those are qualities which are to be admired in a professional.
With Partey injury prone, he may expect more opportunities in the Premier League, whilst, with Arsenal back in Europe as well, there is plenty of football to go around for everybody this season.
At some stage Arsenal may well need to evolve beyond Elneny and replace him with a more complete midfielder, but, until that time comes, he is ready, willing and able.