Premier League rivals Manchester United and Manchester City are among the clubs interested in signing Ismael Bennacer, according to reports.
Bennacer spent two years at Arenal between 2015 and 2017, but was restricted to just one substitute appearance. He has revived his career since then, though, impressing at Empoli before earning a move to AC Milan last summer.
The Algerian midfielder returned to action in the Coppa Italia this week when Milan were eliminated by Juventus. Bennacer was one of their better performers in that game, carrying on his promising form from the past year.
Last summer, Bennacer won the African Cup of Nations with Algeria, and was named the Player of the Tournament. He has followed that up with 23 appearances for Milan – but he could be set for another move soon.
According to Foot Mercato, several clubs are monitoring Bennacer’s development – including the two Manchester clubs. Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are also interested, with the French side particularly keen.
Clubs will have to pay a €50m release clause to sign Bennacer. However, while it had been thought that clause was only valid from 2021, Foot Mercato claim it can be activated this summer.
Hence, there could be a scramble for Bennacer’s signature this summer – despite Milan viewing him as someone to build around. The Italian giants could welcome Ralf Rangnick as their new coach next season, who would be keen to keep him.
Should another club meet his release clause, though, Milan will not be able to stand in Bennacer’s way if he wants to move. The Italian club have stipulated, though, that the clause cannot be paid in installments, according to MilanNews.it.
Missed opportunity for Arsenal
The rising price tag on Bennacer’s shoulders will not make welcome reading for Arsenal. Not only did they let him go for just €1m, they also rejected the chance to match Milan’s offer and re-sign him for €16m last summer.
The 22-year-old has admitted that he was played out of position when given his sole cameo by Arsene Wenger. Bennacer was sent on as a winger in a League Cup loss to Sheffield Wednesday in October 2015.
He told Sportweek last month: “Finally, in September, I got some time on the pitch, but I was thrown on after two other injuries against Sheffield [Wednesday], played wide left in a trident attack, which I had never done before.
“I felt incredible pressure and wasn’t sure what was going on.”
Bennacer does not regret his failed stint at the Emirates Stadium, though, as he added: “I never played again after that, but I have no regrets, as I still got to train with important players like Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.
“I had four years left on the Arsenal contract, but I had to be at a club where they really wanted me.”