Bennacer: “Milan wanted me more than anyone; I could play as a playmaker”

By Oliver Fisher -

Ismael Bennacer has revealed that he joined AC Milan this summer because they were the club that wanted him most.

The young Algerian midfielder was Milan’s fourth signing of the summer, joining for a fee of €16million plus €2m in potential bonuses.

Bennacer starred in this year’s African Cup of Nations, playing an important role as his side went on to win the competition and he was named Player of the Tournament.

The former Arsenal youngster made his competitive debut for Milan in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Udinese at the Stadio Friuli, coming on as a second half substitute, while he has been widely tipped to start on Saturday against Brescia.

He penned a five-year deal with the Rossoneri, and you can read our profile on the 21-year-old here, while he has now given a bit more insight into how the move took place.

“Coming to Milan is the result of so much hard work, but it is just the beginning,” the Algeria international told DAZN in Italy, as cited by Football Italia.

“Milan had also approached me before the Africa Cup of Nations. I am a patient type of guy, I don’t like making hasty decisions. I told my agent to filter through the offers and only call me when there was concrete interest.

“He said ‘Milan want you more than anyone’ and it was also very important for me to receive the phone call from Giampaolo, asking me to join him with the Rossoneri.

“The coach told me that he likes players with my style, that my role is very important in his vision of football. That represents a great challenge for me and I do love a challenge.

“He also said I could work as a playmaker, even if there is competition for the role, but I do really appreciate playing in that position.

“It’s true, I’ve been doing it for under a year and the first time I played there was against Juventus, but I know that I can really grow into it.”

He continued: “When I am on the pitch, I am hungry. I want to give everything for my team, I see my 10 teammates out there as my family, my brothers. I could die for my family.”

As mentioned, the 21-year-old was very impressive for his country at the recent AFCON, something he has not yet got his head around.

“I still haven’t entirely realised what happened. At the end of the day, I only played seven games for Algeria.

“I am young and need to improve, but I am happy, because it’s not every day you get named Player of the Tournament at AFCON.”

Bennacer showed up to his medical wearing an interesting outfit, but he concluded his interview by insisting that is not the norm.

“I usually dress quite discreetly, but that day I put those clothes on and I didn’t think everyone would be talking about them! When my agent saw me, he said: ‘Thank goodness you’re in Milan, now you can go and buy some new clothes!’”

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Tags AC Milan Ismaël Bennacer