Man City want £36m Algerian but ‘determining factor’ has top rival on pole

Ismael Bennacer Spezia v AC Milan February 2021

Manchester City face a tough battle to beat Paris Saint-Germain to the signing of AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer, a report claims.

The former Arsenal academy starlet has long entertained links with a move back to England.

While Manchester United have supposedly had past interest, more recent links point towards City as a potential destination.

However, according to Algerian outlet Competition, PSG sit in pole position for his signing.

The French champions have reportedly devised a player-plus-cash deal with Milan. In addition, they feel confident that the Serie A club will not receive a better proposal.

As part of the deal, Leandro Paredes would move to Italy, after playing a semi-regular role for PSG this term.

What’s more, PSG sporting director Leonardo has contacts and relationships at Milan which could prove the ‘determining factor’ in beating City to Bennacer’s signature.

As for Milan’s stance, transfer chief Paolo Maldini has shown past reluctance to sell the 23-year-old.

Ismael Bennacer Bologna v AC Milan January 2021

However, amid the financial cost of the coronavirus pandemic, he has changed his mind and is open to offers this summer.

Bennacer’s recent rise at Milan comes after his spell with Arsenal failed to spark into life. The Algeria international left for Empoli in the summer of 2017 after two years with the north London club.

Former boss Arsene Wenger negotiated a clause in that deal which allowed Arsenal to match other clubs’ future bids.

Although, his successor Unai Emery chose not to activate it and instead sanctioned his sale to Milan.

Leonardo has history with Bennacer

Ismael Bennacer, Franck Kessie AC Milan Spezia v AC Milan February 2021

Competition‘s report adds that Leonardo has history with Bennacer in the form of a meeting between the pair.

The report does not say when, but the player and chief sat down in Milan for lunch before Leonardo laid out the contract which he had planned for Bennacer.

The proposal supposedly featured a ‘staggering’ salary and a five-year contract, which convinced the player.

As such, the signs point to PSG winning the race for the 25-cap Algeria man, who Transfermarkt values at £36million.

Should City beat PSG to his signature, Bennacer would join fellow Algerian Riyad Mahrez at the Etihad Stadium.

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