Former Arsenal youngster Ismael Bennacer has returned to Italy ahead of a transfer from Empoli to AC Milan.
The 21-year-old has travelled back from Egypt where his midfield exploits culminated in Algeria winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Bennacer to Milan: Five things to know…
- Arsenal signed the French-born Algeria international from Arles in 2015.
- He went on to make one appearance, as a substitute in the club’s 3-0 League Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday that same year.
- The 21-year-old eventually left for Empoli two years later after a brief loan move to Tours.
- He has since excelled in Italian football, and despite Empoli’s relegation, he drew widespread plaudits.
- Bennacer has now arrived in Milan ahead of a San Siro switch.
He also managed to scoop the tournament’s “Best Player” accolade for his efforts in the middle of the park, and he now looks poised to join the Rossoneri for around €16m (£14.4m) plus €2m in add-ons.
Despite Empoli suffering relegation to Italy’s second tier, Bennacer attracted the attention of numerous suitors due to his excellent performances at the Stadio Carlo Castellani, including Napoli.
However, Diavolo, under summer appointment Marco Giampaolo, appear to have won the race for the 17-time Algeria international, after he was spotted arriving at Milan’s La Madonnina clinic ahead of the first stage of his medical.
— Antonio Vitiello (@AntoVitiello) July 22, 2019
Upon joining Empoli from Arsenal in 2017, the Gunners reportedly agreed to have an instalment included in his contract which stipulated that they could match any offers accepted by Gli Azzurri for Bennacer.
However, it is believed the north London club have opted against rivalling Milan for Bennacer’s signature, freeing the path for their former midfielder to complete a transfer to the Italian giants.
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Arsenal set for transfer boost
With suggestions of a restricted budget for Unai Emery this summer, the Spaniard could be given a slight transfer boost, as reports suggest Arsenal are set to profit from a previously agreed upon sell-on clause with Empoli.
That sell-on clause for Bennacer is believed to be set at 30%, meaning Arsenal would make a tidy £4.2m out of the deal, which is expected to be finalised in the coming days.
With Emery keen to add significant firepower to his squad this window, including trying to secure Wilfried Zaha and Kieran Tierney, those extra funds will come as welcome news to the Arsenal gaffer.