Arsenal make return of €40m midfielder ‘summer priority’ as Edu revives ‘serious’ January interest

Will Ford
Reported Arsenal target Ismael Bennacer shouts in frustration

Arsenal have reportedly made the signing of Ismael Bennacer a ‘summer priority’ having ‘seriously tried’ to land the AC Milan star in January.

Amid their push for Moises Caicedo in the winter window, which saw them fail with two bids for the Brighton star and led them instead to sign Chelsea’s Jorginho, a report last month revealed that they were also keen on Bennacer.

The Algeria international – who played in Arsenal’s academy between 2015 and 2017 before being sold to Empoli – was among a number of targets for director Edu, who ‘seriously tried’ to bring him ‘back home’ according to Calciomercato.

Bennacer stayed and that’s been good news for Milan, who are counting on the 25-year-old midfielder as they push for Champions League qualification this season, while trying to overcome city rivals Inter Milan in the semi-finals of this year’s competition.

And Bennacer – who’s valued by Transfermarkt at €40m – has played a key role in getting them to the latter stages of Europe’s showcase competition, starting every group game and scoring the crucial goal in the first leg of their quarter-final win over Napoli.

Perhaps it’s that form that means Arsenal continue to hold an interest in the defensive midfielder, with Algerian outlet Competition (via Sport Witness) claiming the Gunners have ‘made his arrival a priority for the recruiting of this summer’.

The report claims ‘other Premier League sides are also interested’, though it doesn’t mention which, and they will all have to wait in any case.

That’s because Bennacer’s agent, Enzo Raiola, has told interested parties to approach at the end of the season, with Bennacer currently focused on his football with Milan.

The Algerian would provide competition for Thomas Partey – who’s struggled of late – and Jorginho.

Speaking to Gazzetta at the end of last year, former AC Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini praised Bennacer for his ability to free midfield partner Sandro Tonali.

He said: “Bennacer has a great ability to manage the ball, freeing Tonali, who with him can concentrate on his best: the dynamic qualities of coverage of the field. The growth of the two goes hand in hand.”

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