Arsenal have surprisingly come to the decision to let a midfield regular leave as part of a player-plus-cash deal for AC Milan’s Ismael Bennacer, according to a report.
Central midfield is arguably the final position Mikel Arteta needs to strengthen at Arsenal. Reports continue to link Arsenal with new wingers, such as Mykhaylo Mudryk, but this position is less pressing than a new midfielder as Arteta can rely on Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli out wide.
When Thomas Partey is fit, he plays alongside Granit Xhaka in the centre of the pitch for Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny and Albert Sambi Lokonga provide backup for those two.
But there are a few reasons why the Gunners are looking to add a new star to their ranks. The first is Partey’s injury record.
Last season, the Ghana international only made 24 Premier League appearances due to an ankle injury and then a knock late in the season.
This term, Partey has missed four games in all competitions due to a thigh issue. Luckily, he is fully fit right now and playing an important role for Ghana in their World Cup group campaign. But it seems the next injury is never far away for Partey.
Elneny has proven to be a reliable replacement for Partey whenever Arteta has called upon him. But Elneny is now 30 years old and is also in the final year of his Arsenal contract, so the Gunners may look to move him on and sign a successor.
Then there is Lokonga. He was signed in July 2021 with the intent of competing with Partey and Xhaka for a starting spot. However, Lokonga is yet to impress either Arteta or the Arsenal supporters. He has often looked out of his depth when playing against top opposition.
These factors have seen Arsenal begin to scout several midfielders. Leicester star Youri Tielemans, Palmeiras’ Danilo and Adrien Rabiot of Juventus are all on their radar.
Ismael Bennacer back in Arsenal sights
Now, though, reports in Italy are linking Arsenal with a player-plus-cash move for Bennacer. CalcioMercatoWeb provide the crucial update on Bennacer’s future and a potential switch to Arsenal.
The 24-year-old has been in contract renewal talks with Milan for several months. This is because his current deal there expires in summer 2024.
However, so far the two parties have been unable to strike an agreement on fresh terms. And if this problem persists, Bennacer could depart Milan for a reduced price.
Arsenal have previously looked into signing him, and it seems they are back in the frame. CalcioMercatoWeb state Arsenal sporting director Edu Gaspar is preparing a ‘super offer’ for Bennacer.
And Edu has reached the shock decision of including Partey in the deal, the report claims. He is willing to offer Milan Partey, plus €20million (currently £17.2m) for Bennacer.
Such a move would see Arsenal disrupt Arteta’s starting eleven by allowing one of his first-choice midfielders to leave the Emirates.
Milan to reject Arsenal proposal
But it seems the proposal will not be enough for Arsenal to land Bennacer anyway. Milan only want cash for the star and have set his asking price at €60m (£51.5m).
As such, Milan will hit Arsenal with a ‘categorical no’ if they submit that player-plus-cash deal for Bennacer.
This would be a shock move for Arsenal to pull off. Many will question why Arteta would allow one of his top midfielders to leave in order to sign Bennacer. This is especially the case during the season, as Partey is set to play an important role in Arsenal’s Premier League title challenge.
Plus, Bennacer represents one of the more expensive midfield options for the Gunners. Tielemans’ contract expires at the end of the season, so he will be available for far less than £51.5m in January.
Palmeiras starlet Danilo, meanwhile, is reportedly available for £21.5m.