Elneny will have to isolate after contracting the virus | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images
Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny has tested positive for COVID-19 while on international duty with Egypt, after teammate Mohamed Salah also contracted the virus over the weekend.
The Egyptian FA confirmed on Friday that Salah would miss the AFCON qualifier with Togo after testing positive twice in quick succession. The rest of the Egypt team tested negative, including Elneny, who started and finished the 1-0 victory in Cairo.
Upon arriving in Togo for the return fixture, however, another round of testing has flagged Elneny as having the virus, and he has returned to Egypt to isolate. He is expected to be tested further before being definitively ruled out of Arsenal’s trip to Leeds on Sunday.
Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny tests positive for the coronavirus while on international duty with Egypt, following Mohamed Salah contracting COVID-19
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) November 16, 2020
The 28-year-old midfielder had been in impressive form for the Gunners in 2020/21, playing in five of the club’s eight Premier League games so far.
The news comes amid serious questions about the viability of international football in the midst of a global pandemic. In this break alone, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez has tested positive, as have Ireland duo Matt Doherty and James McLean.
The issue is far from isolated to internationals, however. The AP’s Rob Harris that there have been 16 positives in the Premier League’s most recent batch of testing, which only covers those not away on international duty. In comparison to previous rounds, that is a high return from a sample size of just over 1,200.
Elneny has impressed for Arsenal this season | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images
There is also concern about the impact international fixtures are having on the fitness of players at a time when domestic scheduling is busier than ever. A knock-on effect of the seven-month break from football last season is a tightly-packed fixture list this time around, and Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have been among the leading voices to raise concerns.
Klopp has seen two of his players, Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson, pick up minor injuries while playing for England and Scotland, putting them in doubt to face Leicester this weekend.