It’s hard not to love Mohamed Elneny, Arsenal’s footballing Labrador

The Premier League's second-best Egyptian plays with an enthusiasm that is rapidly endearing him to many Gooners...


There’s something adorable about Mohamed Elneny.

Maybe it’s the way he scampers after every ball that comes anywhere near him as if doing so was not merely his absolute favourite thing in the world, but also the most important task ever entrusted to a living being. Or maybe it’s that he always appears to be smiling, even when you can only see him from 100 metres away.

On the pitch, Elneny oozes enthusiasm to such an extent that you wonder if he even understands the concept of not enjoying a football match. He is seemingly unwavering in his commitment to joie de jouer, no matter the scoreline.

It looks as if, to Elneny, the game can only ever be fun.

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“He’s a super-popular player and everybody inside the club loves him,” Arsène Wenger told recently.

It’s easy to see why: Elneny is very much a friendly Labrador running with the Premier League wolf-pack. Perhaps it’s a mark of what football and its practitioners have become that a player who exhibits a basic enjoyment of his profession stands out as somehow naive. Why hasn’t his spirit been crushed by the relentless intensity of the sport?, you ask yourself.

Elneny gives the impression of innocence, a beaming, scuttling presence who just wants to run around chasing balls all day long. You half expect that if you left him alone in your sitting room for an hour, you’d come back to find the sides of the sofa shredded and a guilty puddle badly concealed beneath the coffee-table.

But you know you’d forgive him. It’s hard to stay mad at such a good boy.

On top of all that, he’s proving to be a pretty decent footballer as well.

It would take a madman to claim he’s a midfielder on a par with the very best, but the Egyptian has improved to the point that he was named Europa League Player of the Week for his performance against CSKA. He knows where to be, and works his paws off to get there.

He’ll never pass like Riquelme, or dribble like Messi. But there’s something to be said for hard work and positional discipline, especially in an Arsenal side that so often lacks those attributes. Arguably, he is becoming precisely the type of player the club has lacked for a decade or so, and he was duly rewarded for his labours with a new contract in March.

It subsequently emerged that the midfielder had opted to stay at the Emirates and fight for his place rather than accept a move away prior to the beginning of the 2017/18 season, further enamouring him to an increasingly appreciate fanbase. Wenger wasn’t mistaken when he spoke of Elneny’s popularity, which is growing among Gooners with every passing week.

And, given his expertise at harmless social media Bantz, is it any surprise?

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What do you think?