EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal eye Bennacer as Caicedo alternative but face Man City competition

Steve Kay
Steve Kay
  • Updated: 7 May 2023 09:03 BST
  • 3 min read
Ismael Bennacer, Milan, Arsenal, Man City, 2022/23
© ProShots

Manchester City and Arsenal are set to battle it out in the transfer market for AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bannacer, FootballTransfers can reveal.

The two side are already going head-to-head in the Premier League, with City taking an edge over their London rivals in recent weeks, with Mikel Arteta’s men having mounted an unexpected title challenge this season.

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And with the transfer window looming, the pair are set to lock horns in the market, with the Algeria international in the viewfinder of both.

Bennacer was on the books at Arsenal between 2015 to 2017 but only made one appearance for the club and was sold to Empoli for just €1 million before moving onto Milan after impressing in Italy.

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Bennacer not Arsenal’s first choice

Sources have told us that Arteta is seriously looking at the possibility of bringing the former Gunner back to the club in case the Gunners fail to capture primary summer target Moises Caicedo of Brighton or Declan Rice of West Ham. FootballTransfers understands that Caicedo is the priority.

Arsenal have previously shown they will not be drawn into spending over the odds for any of their transfer targets, with Mykhailo Mudryk a prime example of this as they preferred he move to Chelsea than overspend on him.

Brahim Diaz celebrates with Ismael Bennacer
© ProShots - Brahim Diaz celebrates with Ismael Bennacer

Those close to Man City have indicated to us that Pep Guardiola is also a big admirer of Bennacer and has in the past contacted the player directly about a move to the Etihad Stadium.

Now City’s main target Jude Bellingham is Real Madrid bound, the Algerian would provide not only excellent competition for Rodri but could also play as a regular starter, with the futures of Ikay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Kalvin Phillips looking likely to be elsewhere next season.

Bennacer recently signed a new deal with the Rossoneri, which includes a release clause that Arsenal or Man City will have to trigger. This is believed to be in the region of €50m and is active until 2024 for a player with an Estimated Transfer Value (ETV) of €45m – meaning Milan’s release cause is firmly within the error range.

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