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Man City signing this 22-year-old Serie A starlet would be smart long-term investment

MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05: Ismael Bennacer of AC Milan looks on during the pre-season friendly match between AC Milan and Monza at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 5, 2020 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Why Manchester City should return for Ismael Bennacer in January

According to a report from Manchester Evening News in June, Manchester City had been linked with a move for AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer. City invested on their defensive side though and made a few other additions. Bennacer stayed back in Milan for the time being as no concrete offer was made.

Profile

Bennacer, 22, is a product of AC Arles youth system. He was signed by Arsenal in the summer of 2015 and joined their U21 ranks. However, he failed to make it to the Gunners senior setup and since then, he has had spells with Tours FC and Empoli before joining the Italian giants in August 2019.

The Algerian has grown a key part of Milan’s squad this term and is one of the reasons for the club’s improved performances under Stefano Pioli. He also helped his nation lift the Africa Cup of Nations trophy last year and was adjudged the tournament’s best player.

AC Milan’s Algerian midfielder Ismael Bennacer celebrates after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Bologna played behind closed doors on July 15, 2020 at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Bennacer would be an upgrade on Rodri

Not so long ago Fernandinho was the anchorman of this Manchester City side. As he started to get on the wrong side of 30, the club decided to bring in Rodri. While the Spaniard has his strengths, he isn’t exactly a no-nonsense, tough-tackling defensive midfielder like Fernandinho in his prime. He is more of a passer/distributor sitting deep.

Another problem is his mobility. The former Atletico man isn’t exactly the fastest man on the pitch which results in opposition countering City with relative ease. Unlike Fernandinho, he is not known for his last-ditch tackles. While he may still come good, City need to plan for life after Fernandinho.

Ismael Bennacer can be the man they are looking for. The Algerian has transformed AC Milan since his arrival, helping them sit atop the league standings this season. A natural defensive midfielder, he can also play a bit higher up the pitch if required.

Ismael Bennacer won the AFCON 2019 with Algeria
Ismael Bennacer won the AFCON 2019 with Algeria

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Verdict

If we were to be accurate, Bennacer is what Italian football calls a Mezzala. It means that he is an all-action midfielder who can contribute in offence and defence as well as drift wide to provide width. Sounds like a Pep Guardiola player.

He has the quality to be a huge hit under Pep Guardiola and can even develop further with his guidance. Thus, City should really step up their efforts in signing Bennacer.

Written by Sourav Ghosh

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