Ismael Bennacer is considered one that got away by some Arsenal fans.
So why did it not work at Arsenal for the player who former Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, now CEO at Milan, believes is becoming ‘a top player’ (as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport).
It would appear Arsene Wenger is largely to blame.
“The first two months I stayed in the hotel because I didn’t want to go and live in a family I didn’t know. I was 17 years old, I wasn’t of age and I couldn’t live alone, so my sister came to stay with me…
“… In September, finally, I see the field. In the League Cup, against Sheffield (Wednesday). Chamberlain is hurt so Walcott comes into his place and after two minutes he gets hurt too, so Wenger throws me in. The problem is that he puts me wide on the left in the front three. It’s a role I’ve never done.
“I feel crazy pressure on him. I lose a few balls, but I take fewer. After that I haven’t played since, but I have no regrets. I trained with important players like Özil and Cazorla.”
The Algerian midfielder joined Arsenal from Arles-Avignon in 2015 but he left the club after just two years.
Bennacer joined Italian side Empoli after impressing on loan at Tours in August 2017.
He went on to help Empoli win promotion to Serie A and was then their star player as the club fell to relegation.
But his impressive form at Empoli saw AC Milan take an interest and he was signed by the Rossoneri for a reported (Football Italia) €16 million (£14 million) last summer. The 22-year-old has been one of the only success stories of Milan’s difficult season which has seen PSG reportedly (Le10 Sport) lodge a €30 million (£27m) bid for his services which Gazidis rejected.
That game against Sheffield Wednesday ended up being Bennacer’s first and last game for Arsenal, with the Gunners being dumped out 3-0 by the Championship side.
Now, operating in a deeper controlling midfield role, it is clear that Arsenal missed a trick by getting Bennacer’s position all wrong.