AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer has revealed some of the background on last summer when he joined the club from Empoli.
The Algeria international only signed from Empoli six months ago, but his energetic performances have made him a fan favourite already and he has become a key part of the starting XI under Stefano Pioli.
He has made 22 appearances in all competitions for the Rossoneri and has recently found himself part of a midfield anchor pairing alongside Franck Kessie, one which has brought the best out of both players.
Bennacer spoke to RMC Sport explaining how things went in the summer of 2019, when he moved to Milan.
“I had told my agent that if there were interested teams he shouldn’t have told me. I wanted to do the African Cup of Nations first. I didn’t want to know anything,” he said.
“Milan wanted to do the operation during the cup, I received a call from the management during the competition and I made my choice before the final. I wanted to wait for no regrets.”
Among the teams apparently also interested in Bennacer were Ligue 1 side Lyon, who had started contacts with his agent without then developing a real negotiation.
“There were concrete contacts. Their project is good and I like it. They hadn’t yet taken on the new manager, but my agent had met the management.
“I had seen Florian Maurice and told me they wanted me, that any coach would have wanted me at Lyon. Sylvinho and Juninho came later and I never heard from them again. Why did I go to Milan? Because I have to feel that coach and president want me.”
Bennacer currently has the most yellow cards of any player in Europe’s top five leagues with 12, but he believes it is part of his style.
“I have taken many yellow cards, but I always give everything. I am like that. Does Pioli talk to me about it? No, he said it in an interview but he knows my temperament. Before I ran a lot but not in the right way, now I do better. I do many kilometres per game.”
On his relationship with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he added: “It is the first time I have played with a champion, it is incredible. He always asks me to give it to him as quickly as possible, always faster.
“I can learn from him, he speaks a little bit of French, broadly speaking. His personality helps us a lot. After the game against Torino, despite winning, he wasn’t happy, he was really pissed.”