Unai Emery to ‘assist’ Arsenal in Joao Felix race with move for reliable Gunners star

Aston Villa are reportedly set to offer Arsenal a boost in their pursuit of Joao Felix with a clever January transfer of their own.
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Aston Villa are ‘plotting’ a move to sign Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny with Unai Emery reportedly eager to set up a reunion with the experienced midfielder. The Egyptian, who has mainly been a reliable utility option since signing for the Gunners from Basel in 2016, could offer Villa better depth in the middle of the park.

Elneny has never been a player to consistently start every game in the Premier League, but he has proven himself over the years to be one of the best midfield backups in the division. Stepping in when needed under Arsene Wenger, Freddie Ljungberg, Mikel Arteta, and of course Emery, the 30-year-old has totted up 88 appearances in the Premier League.

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According to a report in Mirror Football’s print edition, Emery is keen to bring Elneny to Villa Park in a deal worth around £6 million. The extra cash could offer Arsenal the direct funds to snap up Joao Felix, who Atletico Madrid are said to be happy with parting with a loan deal with an obligation to buy. The desired loan fee has been reported to be just under £10 million.

Emery’s potential move for Elneny would free up at least half the funds for the initial Felix loan, and that is if the Gunners do not ask for more. The Spanish head coach, who joined the Villans in late October, is also hoping to bring in a new left-back - likely to be Alex Moreno - and almost certainly a winger. Emery said earlier this week he wants “a winger in particular with different characteristics.”

Mohamed Elneny has been a brilliant utility option for Arsenal ever since he signed in 2016.Mohamed Elneny has been a brilliant utility option for Arsenal ever since he signed in 2016.
Mohamed Elneny has been a brilliant utility option for Arsenal ever since he signed in 2016.

Countless big names have been linked as a result of Emery’s comments, but some have been around for a while longer. Ever since he first took charge of the Lions, the likes of Nicholas Jackson, Arnaut Danjuma and Marcus Thuram have perhaps been the most discussed. Jackson and Danjuma worked with Emery before he left Villarreal, so a theme may be emerging with recruiting former colleagues.

There has been a real resurgence at Villa Park since Emery took over and it seems he has quite the pulling power for new players – if reports are to be believed. The Lions are in 11th place with 22 points in their first 18 games. Their next league fixture is at home to Leeds United on Friday, January 13.

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