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Bennacer’s reputation has soared since Arsenal exit

There have been several youngsters at Arsenal who have slipped through the net only to impress at other clubs across Europe.

Donyell Malen and Jeff-Reine Adelaide are just two examples. Both were on the books of the Gunners as youngsters, and are now regular features at PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie and Lyon in Ligue 1 respectively.

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Ismael Bennacer is another who can be added to that list. He was contracted by the north London outfit for two years before leaving for Empoli in Serie A.

Now, he is impressing at AC Milan.

Let’s have a look at exactly how he is getting on…

Time at Arsenal

As per Transfermarkt, the 22-year-old cost the Emirates side just £270,000 in 2015 from French side Arles Avignon – he had already made seven appearances for them by that time.

Originally as a member of the youth squad, he did make one appearance for the side under Arsene Wenger, in the League Cup, but that was to be the beginning and the end of his Arsenal career.

He spent one season on loan at Ligue 2 side Tours, where he scored once in 16 matches, before moving to Empoli for a fee of just £900,000. That represented a £630,000 profit, but he would prove to be worth an awful lot more in the future.

Where is he now?

It was with Empoli where he made his first real impression on European football. Immediately after signing from Arsenal, he was thrust into the first team, and played 39 out of a possible 42 matches in Serie B as Gli Azzurri earned themselves promotion to the top flight.

He was a regular once again amongst the elite. He would miss just one match during the 2018/19 season, and was a reliable rock in the middle of the park – he averaged 2.6 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per match. That was not quite enough to help Empoli survive in Serie A, but they can consider themselves desperately unlucky to be relegated with 38 points.

Last summer, he introduced himself to a wider audience. As Algeria won the African Cup of Nations, he played all but 33 minutes, providing three assists as well. Those displays contributed to him being nominated for the African Player of the Year award alongside the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Should Arsenal have re-signed Bennacer?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Whilst his side dropped down a division, he would end up staying in the top tier.

AC Milan decided to pay €16m (£14.4m) for his services, with Arsenal turning down the chance to re-sign him in the process. He was one of the Rossoneri’s best performers, amassing an average WhoScored rating of 7.02 before the league was suspended due to the current worldwide pandemic.

Now valued at £19.8m by Transfermarkt, his departure could be one Arsenal live to regret.

Article title: Bennacer’s reputation has soared since Arsenal exit

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