06 August 2019
All you need to know about our new signing, the 21-year-old Algerian midfielder
Ismaël Bennacer, the Algerian midfielder born in Arles (France) in December 1997, is the Rossoneri’s fourth summer signing this season. He joins AC Milan following two seasons at Empoli, the first in Serie B and the second in Serie A. Despite his club's relegation, Bennacer's performances thrust him into the limelight as one of the most promising young talents in Italy.
His is the story of huge potential which has now finally come to fruition. 1.75 m and 70kg, he combines great technical skill with a natural talent for breaking up opposition attacks: in fact, he won the ball back more than any other outfield player in last year’s Serie A (312). Due to his low centre of gravity and great dynamism, he is capable of holding his own in the challenge but stands out above all for his ball control, excellent decision-making and ability to launch attacks. Last season he recorded 3 assists in the league and 3 in 7 appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Ismaël Bennacer’s career began at Arles-Avignon, in the city of his birth. His first-team debut came on 3 January 2015 in the Coupe de France against Red Star FC in Paris, as he had just turned 17: they lost 2-1 and Bennacer scored his side’s only goal. Just 6 days later, on 9 January, he also made his Ligue 2 debut. At the end of the season, the opportunity of a lifetime came calling: he signed for Arsenal, who added him to the U23 side. On 27 October 2015, he came on to replace Theo Walcott in the 19th minute in Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat in the League Cup against Sheffield Wednesday: this was his only first-team appearance for the Gunners.
EMPOLI AND SERIE A
In January 2017 he was sent out on loan to Tours, in the French Ligue 2: he recorded 16 appearances and 1 goal in half a season before beginning his Italian adventure at Empoli in the summer of 2017, when he was purchased from Arsenal. This was the turning point of his still blossoming career: with 39 appearances and 2 goals, Ismaël stood out as the driving force behind their promotion into Serie A. He stayed in Tuscany for a second season and became a fundamental part of Andreazzoli’s team, the pivot around which the whole team revolved. Out of 38 games, he missed just one due to suspension. Despite their relegation, it was a positive season for Bennacer, as his performances propelled him into a whole new world of football.
THE NATIONAL TEAM
His experience in an Algeria shirt began on 4 September 2016, in their resounding 6-0 victory over Lesotho in the qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations. Since then he has received 26 call ups and made 17 appearances, 11 of which as a starter, right up to the highest level as a key figure in the Africa Cup of Nations: Algeria won the 2019 tournament and Ismaël was named Player of the Tournament.
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