Dani Ceballos hails Arsenal’s ‘luxury player’ as Mikel Arteta’s unsung hero

Mohamed Elneny has played sparingly for Arsenal over the years since his move from Basel seven years ago, but Dani Ceballos has praised his former Gunners teammate

Dani Ceballos hailed Mohamed Elneny as a “luxury player” after the Egyptian came on in the last 20 seconds of Arsenal’s 3-1 win over West Ham United on Boxing Day.

The 30-year-old replaced Thomas Partey in the dying moments of the Gunners’ comeback victory over David Moyes’s men at the Emirates Stadium. Mikel Arteta’s side fell behind at half-time thanks to Said Benrahma’s penalty before Arsenal struck back with a fantastic second-half display.

Bukayo Saka’s goal leveled them, before Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah scored to turn the game on its head and give the Gunners all three points. It was a result that extended their lead at the top of the table to eight points ahead of Manchester City’s clash with Leeds United on 28 December.

However, Ceballos decided to focus on an unsung hero after the game, while praising Elneny for how he behaves on a daily basis. Elneny came on as a late substitute in the Gunners’ last three Premier League games before the World Cup break.

Ceballos tweeted: “Incredible professional, incredible teammate. More players like this in football. A luxury player for Arsenal.”

The pair played together at Gunners during Ceballos’ time at the Emirates Stadium after he was loaned out by Real Madrid for his first 12 months in July 2019. The 26-year-old made 37 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal during his first season at the club in lifting the Emirates FA Cup in their successful Covid-19 campaign, before Mikel Arteta convinced Ceballos to stay for another year.

However, Ceballos returned to Real Madrid at the end of the 2020/21 season, having played 77 games for the Gunners in a topsy-turvy north London campaign. He played just 18 times for Los Blancos last season, although he did pick up a Champions League medal, going into the final against Liverpool.

Elneny, meanwhile, has been with the Gunners for seven seasons following his move from Basel in January 2016, with Arsene Wenger eager to bring the midfielder to the club. He has, however, failed to consolidate a regular place in the starting line-up over the years, although he has periods of success when called up.

He made 41 appearances for Arsenal in the 2020/21 campaign, most of them alongside Ceballos at the bottom of that midfield. Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeespite sometimes receiving criticism from the Gunners faithful, Ian Wright praised Elneny, where he spoke about the impact he had on the team.

“I don’t care what people think of Elneny, I think he’s brilliant for us,” Wright told Premier League Productions in November. “To freshen up a bit, so that you get someone who can control the game because at the moment we can’t do as we would like without Zinchenko.”

“Someone like Elneny comes in and can handle the ball,” he added.

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