Mohamed Elneny signed new Arsenal contract earlier in the year, but he’s got a lot of work to do to earn an extension.

Arsenal have two central midfielders out of contract at the end of the season, but Mikel Arteta could decide to retain the services of one next summer

The Gunners broke their transfer record to sign Declan Rice for £105million and also spent £65million to recruit Kai Havertz from Chelsea. Despite the Germany international operating mostly as a forward during his time at Stamford Bridge, he’s been used in the engine room by Mikel Arteta thus far.

It’s safe to say the jury is still out on this deal but despite playing in the role vacated by Granit Xhaka after his £21.4million move to Bayer Leverkusen, the Arsenal manager has already insisted that the 24-year-old is not a direct replacement for his former vice-captain.

“He’s [Havertz] not a replacement [for Xhaka],” the Spaniard said during pre-season. “He’s not gonna be like-for-like because everybody’s going to be very different to what Granit gave us. It will be very different, but Kai has tremendous qualities for our way of playing.”

Whilst Havertz’s mission is to win over the Gunners faithful, Fabio Vieira is giving Arteta a team selection headache. The Portuguese playmaker had a difficult first season after his £34million transfer from Porto, but has provided game-changing contributions in his last two appearances as a substitute to stake a claim for a start after the international break.

With Emile Smith Rowe also an option along with Leandro Trossard, Arsenal are blessed with some serious depth in the more advanced midfield positions as captain Martin Odegaard is perhaps the only guaranteed starter when everyone is fit and available for selection.

In defensive midfield, however, a situation is developing. During the summer the north London outfit let Ainsley Maitland-Niles leave on a free transfer and on deadline day allowed Albert Sambi Lokonga to join Premier League newcomers Luton Town on a season-long loan deal.

This leaves Rice, Thomas Partey, Jorginho and Mohamed Elneny as the natural number sixes at Arteta’s disposal at least until January when he might have to re-evaluate things considering those options could be halved for up to a month due to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Having said that, the likelihood of all four players being at the Emirates Stadium beyond this season does seem slim. Particularly as one can assume game time is going to be limited for one of Jorginho and Elneny, given that Partey has been used as an inverted right-back at times.

It’s not inconceivable they both leave given they are out of contract next summer, although Arsenal do have the option to extend the Italian’s contract by a further year. But given Arteta’s love for midfield players, perhaps he will look to retain the services of one come next summer.

“Now we have three very good holding midfielders with him (Rice), Thomas and Jorginho,” he said during pre-season. “I have to fit them in because they are so good and I love playing with midfielders. So, we are thinking of a few things we can do to maximize their qualities.”

It should be pointed out that the Spaniard was speaking at a time when Elneny was unavailable for selection. That should change with the midfielder closing in on a return to action following knee surgery and his influence off the pitch is something which is greatly appreciated.

“It’s totally deserved. It’s an absolute joy to have him at the club,” Arteta said after the 31-year-old signed a new contract earlier in the year. “I think what the club has done is absolutely brilliant, it’s not just with words that we say we value the people that we have and we stick together in difficult moments.

“Mo had a really difficult moment a few weeks ago when he had a pretty big injury, a serious injury and the club committed with him for what he gives to the team, for what he’s done for this football club. I think it’s a really strong message by everybody at the club to try to keep our best people and our best players with us in challenging moments.”

At the same time, Arteta also appreciates Jorginho’s experience. All of this points towards friendly competition between the teammates to determine who, if any, is part of the Spanish tactician’s plans for the 2024/25 season as both have proven their worth to Arsenal.