Report: Arsenal turn down chance to re-sign international ace
Arsenal have reportedly turned down the chance to re-sign former midfielder Ismael Bennacer from Serie A side Empoli, with the club refusing to take advantage of a buy-back clause that would give the Gunners the chance to match any bid for the 21-year-old, according to The Guardian.
The report suggests AC Milan have made a bid worth £14.4m for Bennacer, with the Algeria international set to join the San Siro giants once his country’s African Cup of Nations campaign ends in Sunday’s final against Senegal.
Bennacer played for Arsenal up until 2017, making just one appearance for the senior side four years ago in a 3-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup.
But any return to Arsenal now seems off the cards following the club’s decision not to match Milan’s offer – with the likes of Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi among those currently taking up roles in central midfield for the Gunners.
The decision sees Arsenal remain on the sole acquisition of Gabriel Martinelli from Brazilian side Ituano as far as their transfer business is concerned, though their primary task at the moment could be bolstering their defence, with rivals Tottenham threatening to sabotage their move for Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba.
With fully-fledged internationals such as Xhaka and Torreira currently occupying the position Bennacer could be fighting for, it may be understandable should Arsenal opt to strengthen elsewhere with Guendouzi – who only signed last summer – making good progress himself (reaching the semi-finals of the Under-21 European Championships with France last month), and potential gaps in the defence appearing on the back of Laurent Koscielny’s recent actions putting the captain’s Arsenal future in doubt.
Therefore, the timing may just be unfortunate in terms of a possible Arsenal return for Bennacer, as it seems there is simply no need for him while other positions require work.
Although Bennacer boasts an impressive pass success rate of 86.6%, both Xhaka’s (86.5%) and Torreira’s (87.2%) are of a similar level (per WhoScored) – while both Xhaka and Torreira managed a higher goal return than the Algerian last season (four and two respectively, with Bennacer unable to find the net at club level in 2018/19), which may suggest a layout on the former Gunner may be deemed unnecessary purely on the basis of Milan’s approach.
Could Arsenal have done with Bennacer?
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