Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reveals plan to use Mohamed Elneny at centre-back this season

With both Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel out injured, the Frenchman is in search of an alternative

Evan Bartlett
Friday 28 July 2017 13:29
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Elneny was signed as a defensive midfielder but Wenger has faith he can play a deeper role
Elneny was signed as a defensive midfielder but Wenger has faith he can play a deeper role

Arsene Wenger has revealed that he plans to use Mohamed Elneny as a centre-back this season rather than dipping into the transfer market to ease Arsenal's defensive injury woes.

The Egyptian has impressed while playing at the heart of a back three in pre-season and Wenger says he could continue in that role when competitive football begins next month.

“Elneny is a player who has a fantastic mentality and attitude, and his main target is to help the team," Wenger told the club's website.

"When he plays there, of course he does extremely well.

“Of course [he needs to learn the defensive side], but I always felt that a good central midfielder can be a good centre back.

"With the fact of course that when you’re playing in the back four you have to be decisive in the challenges, you have a bit more flexibility in the middle of a back three. He can do that."

Wenger switched to a back three towards the end of last season but could struggle to fill the team, with centre-backs Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel both struggling to return from injury.

As a result, the Frenchman has experimented in pre-season games against Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Western Sydney Wanderers.

“Overall on tour, I played players like Elneny in a back three and he coped very well. Maitland-Niles sometimes played at centre back as well, even in the big games against Chelsea," Wenger added.

"You see their strengths and their weaknesses, and you learn a lot about your players and your combinations too.

"The advantage we have is that we have a good stability in our squad, so I already know who I can combine with who, more or less.”

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