Liverpool, Arsenal battling for Milan title hero with both desperate for midfield reinforcements

Harry Watkinson
Liverpool target Ismael Bennacer is held aloft by fans

Arsenal have reportedly taken an interest in re-signing former youth prospect Ismael Bennacer, while Liverpool are also vying for his signature.

The Algeria international spent two years at the Emirates between 2015 and 2017, but only made one appearance for the Gunners in 3-0 EFL Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

Bennacer subsequently left Arsenal to sign for Empoli for just £1m, where he immediately established himself as a regular in the side, which earned him a £17m move to Milan in 2019.

The 25-year-old has since become a joy to watch under Milan boss Stefano Piolo, playing 126 matches for the Rosseoneri so far, contributing four goals and eight assists.

Last season, Bennacer played a vital role as Milan won their first league title since 2011, making 31 appearances in Serie A.

Generally playing in a defensive midfield position, the Algerian has formed an excellent partnership with Sandro Tonali, with the duo playing as a double pivot for the Italian champions.

Liverpool have so far been the strongest in the chase for Bennacer, who has just 18 months left on his Milan contract.

The Reds continue to be linked with a host of midfielders with the vast majority of pundits agreeing that they need to rebuild that area of the pitch.

World Cup stars Jude Bellingham, Enzo Fernandez and Sofyan Amrabat continue to be backed to join the Merseyside club and according to journalist Matteo Moretti, Bennacer can be added to that list.

Reportedly, Pioli’s side tabled a new contract for Bennacer worth £3.4m per year, keeping him at the club until 2027, but his entourage believes he could get a more lucrative salary in the Premier League.

With a new deal yet to be signed, Liverpool could reportedly table a bid in the upcoming weeks for the Algerian. However, a summer deal could be more likely, as Bennacer would be a huge loss for Milan midseason.

Now, Tuttomercatoweb claims that Arsenal are also keen on bringing their former youth player back to North London.

Bennacer recently faced his former employers as Milan and Arsenal faced off in a friendly in Dubai, which saw the Gunners win 2-1.

Mikel Arteta has since claimed that his side will be “very active” in the January market as they look to maintain their title charge, with Arsenal currently five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny is out of contract at the end of the season, while Albert Sambi Lokonga and Granit Xhaka’s long-term futures are also shrouded in uncertainty, so they are desperate for midfield reinforcements.

As well as Bennacer, the Gunners have also set their sights on another Serie A midfielder in the form of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, according to TEAMtalk.

If Bennacer fails to sign a new contract at Milan, you can expect the Algerian to be moving to the Premier League in the near future. Whether that will be in January or next summer, however, remains to be seen.

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