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Ismael Bennacer admits he left Arsenal because he wanted to play, something he’s certainly been doing in Italy with AC Milan.
Last summer, Bennacer was linked with a return to Arsenal, after they sold him to Empoli in 2017 for £900k, due to a buy-back clause they had in his contract. The club opted against bringing the defensive midfielder back to London and took the £4.35m sell-on fee instead.
Bennacer then joined AC Milan for £14.4m and proceeded to make himself a first team regular immediately.
The Algerian has previously spoken about how he has no regrets over leaving Arsenal, but this time, when speaking to The Athletic, he was a bit more blunt about things.
“I had three years left on my deal,” he said, “but I wanted to play and besides, they weren’t against my sale, so I left.”
Publicly, Arsenal say that Bennacer’s size was part of their reasoning when they decided to let him go but that makes no sense. Look at Santi Cazorla, who was already at the club three years when they bought Bennacer from AC Arles. He’s a full seven centimetres smaller than Bennacer.
“I arrived in England in July 2015,” Bennacer said earlier this year. “Finally, in September, I got some time on the pitch, but I was thrown on after two other injuries against Sheffield, played wide left in a trident attack, which I had never done before.
“I felt incredible pressure and wasn’t sure what was going on.
“I never played again after that, but I have no regrets, as I still got to train with important players like Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla. I had four years left on the Arsenal contract, but I had to be at a club where they really wanted me.”