Mohamed Elneny completes Arsenal move from Basel
Arsenal confirmed the signing of Egypt midfielder Mohamed Elneny from Basel on Thursday.
Elneny, 23, becomes Arsenal's first signing of the January transfer window and adds to Arsene Wenger's options in defensive midfield in the absence of the injured Francis Coquelin.
Arsenal said on their official website that the deal is still "subject to the completion of regulatory processes" but that "everyone at Arsenal would like to welcome Mohamed to the club."
Arsene Wenger had told reporters after Wednesday's 3-3 draw with Liverpool that the deal had been completed and he hoped he would be available for Sunday's game against Stoke.
The transfer had been held up by paperwork as Elneny needed to have a work permit approved, though sources told ESPN FC that Elneny was in London on Wednesday to complete the £7 million transfer.
After Arsenal announced the move on Thursday, Wenger said it was Elneny's versatility in midfield that made him sign the Egyptian.
"Overall I believe he will be a good addition to the squad for many reasons," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "He is a player who is adaptable in midfield. He can be box-to-box player but he can as well be a holding player so that is for us very interesting. We wanted a versatile player and I wanted a player who can play purely defensively but can also play box-to-box."
Wenger said he started the process of signing Elneny in December after seeing Coquelin sustain a long-term knee injury, but that the club has monitored the Egyptian for more than a year.
"We have looked at him in many games, and we feel that every year he has improved," Wenger said. "His strengths are his technical level, his vision, his intelligence, his disciplined attitude and his physical aptitude to compete at a high level. I think he has the physical qualities to play at the top level.
"Where he needs to adapt is to the challenges, the force needed in the Premier League to survive. I think that could demand a little bit of adaptation. But overall I think he has all the attributes to do well."
Elneny, who has 39 caps for Egypt, joined Basel in 2013 and helped the team win three straight Swiss league titles, while producing a number of impressive displays in the Champions League and Europa League along the way.
He was still relatively unknown before Arsenal's interest was made public, and said he knows he will have to work hard to win over supporters at the Emirates.
"I would like to tell [the fans] that, although you have not seen much of me, I promise I will contribute positively with the team," Elneny said. "I am hoping that we win the Premier League and cup this season, and the Champions League as well."
The midfielder told Basel's official website it was a "big dream" to join Arsenal and added: "Many think that because I join Arsenal I will not play like at FC Basel, but I want to prove the whole world wrong. It's a big step for me and a fantastic dream comes true.
"I am a little bit sad, but also happy. Sad because I owe a lot to FC Basel -- I will miss everything. I am happy because it's the biggest step for me to a big club."
He also spoke of his excitement at the prospect of facing Barcelona in the upcoming Champions League round-of-16 clash, saying: "This will be a huge match, and I hope I can play in it."
While not as physically imposing as some of the players Arsenal had also been linked with, such as Sporting Lisbon's William Carvalho and Southampton's Victor Wanyama, Elneny is a tireless runner and a capable passer who should suit Wenger's style of play.
He is also known as a modest, hard-working player and Wenger said those attributes will also help him fit in at Arsenal.
"We have checked his attitude, he is a very focused and motivated player. His attitude tells me he can integrate to a group like our group that demands a lot of dedication from each other," Wenger said.
Elneny is Arsenal's first Egyptian player, but Wenger said he believes signings from North Africa will become more common in the Premier League.
"They usually have good stamina, they are agile and have a very good first touch and good technique. The way football is developing in England is toward a very technical ability, and these players have what is needed to adapt," Wenger said.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.