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Football and Society: Exciting young African player sig...



Football and Society: Exciting young African player signs for the Arsenal

Mohamed Elneny joins a long list of exceptional and some not so exceptional African players in the English Premier League. We will have to wait and see if he can give Arsenal an extra surge towards the Premier League title. By ISMAIL LAGARDIEN.

Egypt’s Mohamed Elneny has signed for Arsenal from Swiss club, Basel, and joins a legion of African players in the English premier league. While the Arsenal gets something they need, a central midfielder to ease their injury burden, Elneny is described as durable, single-minded with “a mind that has become attuned to the nuances of the defensive midfield role and, more recently, has added more forward-thinking accoutrements”. He is “an intelligent reader of the game, who knows when to hold and when to intercept; he is the ultimate team player, “a manager’s dream because of his work-rate and lack of ego”, The Guardian tells us.

We will have to wait and see, of course, how he works out on the field and in the high-intensity of the Premier League. Arsenal are among the favourites to win the Premier League this season, but they are (quite honestly) too erratic…. You never know what you’re going to get, other than beautiful football. (Note to Arsène Wenger: Goals win games, not pretty plays.)

Elneny began his senior career with El Mokawloon in the Egyptian Premier League. He helped his country to the quarter-finals of the London Olympics in 2012. In the Premier League, Elneny joins the likes of the Toure brothers, Alex Song, Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel, some of the best players in the Premier League.

Elneny strengthens the Africa contingent in the Premier League. A quick survey shows that Crystal Palace have the most African players (five), with Chelsea and West Ham in second place (four).


John Obi Mikel (Nigeria)

Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)

Baba Rahman (Ghana)

Papy Djilobodji (Senegal)

Crystal Palace

Yannick Bolasie (DR Congo)

Pape Souare (Senegal)

Marouane Chamakh (Morocco)

Kwesi Appiah (Ghana)

Bakary Sako (Mali)

West Ham

Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)

Diafra Sakho (Senegal)

Victor Moses (Nigeria)

Alex Song (Cameroon).


Papiss Cisse (Senegal)

Cheick Tiote (Ivory Coast)

Chancel Mbemba (DR Congo).


Sebastien Bassong (Cameroon)

Youssouf Mulumbu (DR Congo)

Dieumerci Mbokani (DR Congo).

Tottenham Hotspur

Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo)


Adlene Guedioura (Algeria)

Allan Nyom (Cameroon)

Odion Ighalo (Nigeria).


Christian Atsu (Ghana)

Tokelo Rantie (South Africa)

Max Gradel (Ivory Coast).

Manchester City

Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)


Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast)

Stoke City

Mame Biram Diouf (Senegal)


Victor Wanyama (Kenya)

Saido Mane (Senegal)

These players follow in the path paved by some of Africa’s best players of the past two decades. Players like:

Tony Yeboah (Ghana)

Lucas Radebe (South Africa)

Mustapha Hadji (Morocco)

Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria)

Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria)

Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)

George Weah (Liberia)

Weah is to date the only African player to win both the Fifa World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or awards in the same year. Drogba has the distinction of being the first African player to score 50 goals in European competitions. I never did rate El Hadji Diouf (Senegal) as one of the outstanding players in the Premier League (he was a nasty piece of work) but he deserves a mention.

Elneny joins a long list of former Arsenal players from Africa: Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Fabrice Muamba, Armand Traore, Gilles Sunu, Emmanuel Frimpong, Gervinho, Yaya Sanogo, Jehad Muntasser, Carlin Itonga, Christopher Wreh, Marouane Chamakh, Emmanuel Eboue, Alex Song and Lauren, one of Arsenal’s Invincibles, the team that went unbeaten in the 2003 – 2004 season. DM

Photo: FC Basel’s Mohamed Elneny (R) fights for the ball with Andre Ramalho of FC Salzburg during their Europa League round of 16 second leg soccer match in Salzburg March 20, 2014. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader


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