Egypt’s Elneny says Swiss spell greatly benefited him before move to Arsenal

A Swiss spell with Basel was vital in helping Mohamed Elneny quickly adapt to life in the English Premier League after sealing a dream move to Arsenal, the Egyptian midfielder said on Wednesday.

Elneny spent three years at Basel before joining Arsenal last January in one of the most high-profile moves for any Egyptian footballer, having reaped the rewards of some solid and consistent displays with the Swiss champions.

A product of the youth academy of Cairo giants Ahly who made his name with fellow Egyptian club Arab Contractors, Elneny believes a move straight to the Premier League from Egypt might have had an adverse effect.

"It would have been very hard to move from Egypt to England straight away, especially to a big club like Arsenal. My time in Switzerland helped me a lot though," he told Arsenal Player.

"You have to change your mentality [when you move countries] to think like successful people. This is the mentality I have always wanted to achieve in my life.

"I learned how to be punctual. Of course in Egypt we are [punctual], but there are small details we don't pay attention to which people outside Egypt do pay attention to.

"Also, I learned a lot about how to play in Europe and in the Champions League. I did all of this in Switzerland and then over here, it's just a case of applying what I learned."

Elneny seemed to have avoided the fate of some Egyptian footballers who made a straight move to the elite Premier League, with Ibrahim Said failing to play a single game with Everton following a transfer from Ahly in 2003 and Amr Zaki suffering a stunning decline in form at Wigan Athletic after making an impressive start in 2008.

The 23-year-old has made 11 league appearances with Arsenal since his arrival, earning acclaim among the Gunners faithful for a series of convincing performances as they finished second behind surprise champions Leicester City.

He also scored a superb goal against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League last 16 although Arsenal were ousted by the Catalans following a 5-1 aggregate loss.

“When I came to Arsenal, there were different ideas. If you went somewhere thinking you know everything, then you'll never learn," Elneny added.

"I gain experience and I always learn from people here because they are successful. Arsenal are one of the biggest five clubs in the world so they're definitely successful people. You have to listen to everyone here to gain their experience.”

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