Arsenal have rejected Egyptian defender Ahmed Fathi after a second unsuccessful trial with the club.
The 101-cap international had spent time in north London back in 2004, but manager Arsene Wenger opted against a move for the player amidst concerns over a work permit. A decade on and the versatile right-back, who can also play in a defensive midfield role, has been told no once again.
Instead, the Gunners opted to sign Mathieu Debuchy from Premier League rivals Newcastle, and the writing must have been on the wall from there for the 29-year-old with Carl Jenkinson also part of the club’s first team squad.
Al Ahly supervisor Alaa Abdel-Sadeq confirmed that the player would be returning to his club after failing to secure a deal with Arsenal, and in truth any other outcome would have been a major surprise.
"Fathi confirmed in a telephone call that he will return to Egypt to extend his stay with the team after finishing a trial with Arsenal," he told Al-Ahram Arabic, according to talkSPORT.
Fathi began his professional career with Ismaily, and had a brief spell with Sheffield United before joining Al Ahly. During his seven years with the club to-date, he’s spent time out on loan At Kazma in Kuwait and, more recently, Hull City during their Championship promotion campaign.
However, he won’t be returning to England under the eye of Wenger, with the full-back not in attendance for the opening pre-season match of the season - a 2-0 win for the Gunners against Boreham Wood.
This might not be the end of the road for Fathi in the Premier League however, as before the short-term stint at the Emirates Stadium, a spokesman for SEM - who represent the player - said a number of clubs in the top two divisions were keen.
"A number of clubs in the Premier League and Championship want to talk with him, but we have agreed he will train at Arsenal and will see what will come from that - he is very excited about the prospect,” noted Craig Honeyman last week.
It remains to be seen which clubs come forward now the Gunners have opted against a move, and the rejection might not be the worst outcome for both parties.
With Debuchy arriving at Arsenal, first team football was always going to be unlikely for Fathi. But, his second stint under Wenger has got his name circulating in the Premier League once again, and he may well get another chance to prove himself elsewhere.