It has been revealed that Arsenal faced a transfer setback, as Ismael Bennacer decided to stay at AC Milan despite interest from Mikel Arteta’s side in January.
What’s the latest on Arsenal’s interest in Bennacer?
As per Calcio Mercato, before the Gunners signed Jorginho in the January transfer window, they made an attempt to bring the Algerian back to north London.
The 25-year-old then put pen to paper on a new deal, which sees him committed to the Rossoneri until 2027.
Via the report, the Italian side will undergo a renewal in the transfer market in the summer, when several names will be put on the transfer list. However, to the Gunners’ dismay, Bennacer will not be one of them.
How would a reunion with Bennacer suit Arsenal?
The Algeria international left north London for Italy in 2017 – signing for Empoli at the time. Since then, the former Tours loanee has developed into one of the most consistent players for AC Milan, as he has averaged a 7.00 match rating – via WhoScored – this season, which is the club’s second highest.
Bennacer, who was lauded as “unreal” by football data analyst Aaron Moniz, has been influential in both areas of AC Milan’s output this season. In defence, the former Arsenal midfielder is ranked within the top 9% for tackles per 90 minutes amongst his positional peers in Europe’s top five leagues over the past 365 days, as per FBref.
However, the 25-year-old, who was valued at around €55m (£48m) during the winter window, also has shone in the attack by accumulating 3.69 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes, which places him in the top 10% under the same conditions as previous.
The multitalented midfielder’s attributes would suit the Gunners perfectly, as he could fulfil Granit Xhaka’s role on the left side. The Switzerland international has been getting further forward into more advanced positions this season, which has seen him score five goals – more than he has in any other Premier League season.
This role would suit Bennacer to a tee. To be successful in this position, the left-sided eight needs to be comfortable with combining with the interchanging Gunners attack, which has seen Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus swap positions mid-game, but also be comfortable forming a pairing with Thomas Partey in defence.
Speaking to Gazzetta.it, former AC Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini praised Bennacer for his ability to free Sandro Tonali, he said: “Bennacer has a great ability to manage the ball, freeing Tonali, who with him can concentrate on his best: the dynamic qualities of coverage of the field. The growth of the two goes hand in hand.”
This shows that the Algerian dynamo has what it takes to work within Arteta’s setup in north London, and missing out on him is a further layer to Arsene Wenger’s mistake to let him go.