Thomas Partey’s arrival will leave Mikel Arteta with a decision to make over Mohamed Elneny’s role in Arsenal midfield.
Since returning from his loan at Besiktas, Mohamed Elneny has made six appearances [five starts one sub] under Arteta at Arsenal.
Having his number four shirt handed to William Saliba appeared to signify the beginning of the end for a midfielder fans had grown to see as a squad player at best.
With the signing of Thomas Partey likely to make an immediate impact on the landscape at Arsenal, the consistency of game time the 28-year-old may not be as steady.
In his more recent performances, however, Elneny has failed to be as effective in the midfield.
Liverpool were always going to provide a greater challenge than most but Sheffield United was a clear example of the drive missing in the Arsenal midfield that should come with Partey’s inclusion.
Expected to drop out of the starting lineup as a result of the club’s transfer business, now comes the question of what is next for Elneny.
Arteta has taken a liking to his former team-mate, admitting before the season was officially underway: “I know Mo really well. I played with him, so I know what he can be and I know his strengths and weaknesses really well,” on August 27.
“He’s a really positive character to have around and he has some really good qualities as well and like anybody else, in the moment that he is with us, he will be given all our support and the best possible environment for them to perform as high as they can.”
Despite this, there has been an admission that signing Partey could lead to a formation change.
The current notion appears to be a switch to a 4-3-3.
If Arteta is to revert to his initial plans, however, a regular starting spot would be much harder for Elneny to come by.
With a three-man midfield, he would suit the central role best, shielding the back four while feeding his fellow midfielders the ball.
As things stand, however, it appears that role is set for Granit Xhaka.
Then coming to the more creative role of the three, that is the place where he’d be least suited.
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With these factors to keep in mind, it’s most likely Elneny will deputise Xhaka in his role, making most of his starts in cup competitions.