Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Man City backed to sign former Arsenal midfielder after cold water poured on Real Madrid switch

Ismael Bennacer, AC Milan

Islam Slimani believes AC Milan's Ismael Bennacer could move to Manchester City

Former Premier League striker Islam Slimani has stated Ismael Bennacer “could play for teams like Manchester City or Real Madrid” but he should go “to the Premier League.”

Bennacer has been playing for AC Milan for the past five seasons. He won the Serie A with them in his third campaign (2021/22), scoring twice and assisting once in 31 games.

It represented the peak of a long journey from being sold by Arsenal to Empoli for under £1million in 2017 after a single appearance for the Gunners’ senior side.

Since his two seasons at Empoli, first in Serie B and then Serie A, Bennacer has made 152 appearances for Milan, and has finished in the top four on three occasions.

A host of injury problems has meant his role has never been a massively consistent one, but according to his international teammate Slimani, the midfielder was one of the world’s best before he had to have surgery on a knee injury last season.

“The injury he suffered last spring held him back. Previously he was considered one of the best midfielders in the world, but I’m sure he’ll be back even stronger,” Slimani told Gianluca di Marzio.

Slimani believes the return to that level could see Bennacer make a move to a top side.

Indeed, he has named three of the last four Champions League winners as clubs who could take him on board.

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Bennacer told to go to Man City

“I have known him since 2017, and I can say that he deserves to be where he is,” Slimani said.

“He could play for teams like Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Especially because he is still young.

“I maybe would have left [Milan] already. Where [should he go]? To the Premier League!”

Indeed, with Slimani suggesting the Premier League is the place to go for Bennacer and believing he’s good enough for Manchester City, that move could be one that comes to fruition at some point.

Guardiola could turn the tables

If that was to happen, Pep Guardiola could turn the tables on Arsenal. Of late, the Mikel Arteta has raided his former side for talent more than once, signing Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and also looking at Joao Cancelo.

Bennacer moving to City would see Guardiola become the one benefitting from a former Arsenal player, rather than it being the other way around.

While the midfielder played just 71 minutes of senior football at the Emirates as a youngster, Slimani believes he was capable of big things then, and that’s even more true now.

“When he was 17 or 18 years old, it was already immediately noticeable that he had a lot of quality. And, without taking anything away from Milan which is a great club, I believe that he can aim even higher,” Slimani added.

As such, Guardiola getting Bennacer through the door could show Arsenal they made a mistake in 2017, and they could soon pay for it.

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