Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Arsenal Reject The Opportunity To Re-Sign This Algerian Star: A Huge Mistake By Emery?

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Anas Molla
An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

According to Guardian, Arsenal have rejected the opportunity to re-sign Ismael Bennacer this summer. The Empoli midfielder is set to join AC Milan. But the Gunners had a clause inserted into his current Empoli contract that would have allowed them to match any offer made by any other interested club. However, the report claims that Arsenal have opted not to match Milan’s reported bid of €16 million.

Bennacer’s success in Italy

Bennacer’s failure to break into the Arsenal first-team led to his transfer to Empoli in 2017. He joined the Italian club for a fee of just €1 million. But, the Algerian is now worth significantly more than that figure, having enjoyed two successful seasons in Italy.

Bennancer notably made 39 appearances in his debut campaign at Empoli, helping the Italian minnows return to the top flight. The midfielder played equally well in the recently concluded 2018/19 campaign, notching up almost 3,000 minutes of league football. He built a solid midfield partnership with Hamed Junior Traore and Rade Krunic, even though Gli Azurri were once again relegated at the end.

However, his performances haven’t gone unnoticed with the midfielder being linked with a host of top clubs across Europe this summer.

What can he offer to the table?

Bennacer is advertised as a technically gifted holding midfielder. The Algerian international has excellent control over the ball and can operate as a ball carrier in half-spaces. However, it is his excellent passing range that allows him to distribute possession and dictate the tempo of the game. He notably attained a superb pass completion rate of 86% last season.

Furthermore, the 21-year-old is adept in manifesting scoring opportunities in the final third while he’s quite accurate in tackles. He attempted a whopping 3.7 tackles per game during the 2018/19 campaign with a success rate of 70%, which was among the highest in the team.

Stat courtesy: Whoscored

Were Arsenal right to let go of Bennancer?

Bennacer’s potential return to Arsenal this summer would have created a lot of conflict in the club’s midfield department. The Gunners already boast the services of Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi. All three, just like the Algerian, are technically gifted central midfielders.

Hence, Bennancer’s addition to the side could have created a dilemma for Unai Emery in terms of team selection. If anything, Arsenal require an attack-minded midfielder who can offer creativity and offensive ingenuity in the final third. 

Furthermore, Arsenal are operating with a slender budget this summer. And spending €16 million on Bennacer could have consumed a considerable chunk of their reported transfer kitty. That would have been a bold move from a club that are in dire need of a new defender as well as a winger as we head towards the final phase of the ongoing summer transfer window.

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