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Ismael Bennacer: Two Thousand Percent



In his first interview as a Rossonero, Bennacer said that he would give us two thousand per cent. I don’t care about the math skills, I need someone with football skills. And as if that weren’t enough to convince Milan fans, he also promised that he would die on the pitch for the fans and for the team. That’s all I needed to hear. I already like this guy two thousand per cent.

He will die for Milan. All you need to know.

Born in France, Ismaël Bennacer also has both Moroccan and Algerian heritage through his parents. He played for his local football club, Arles, from seven years old on until Arsenal signed him in 2015. He only ever made one appearance for Arsenal during the two years he was with the club, and was, in fact, loaned out to French side Tours for the final six months of his contract.

In 2017, he transferred to Empoli, where he helped them gain promotion from Serie B by winning the league that season. He also impressed this past season, although Empoli were relegated despite his best efforts. It would have been those performances that caught the eye of Milan’s new directors, and with Empoli being relegated, it increased his availability for a transfer.


Plenty of Serie A experience last season at Empoli

While already in negotiations with Milan, it was his performances at the Africa Cup of Nations that caught everyone else’s attention. As he led Algeria to the title, he also earned himself the Player of the Tournament award. He was joint top assist leader along with someone else we know, Franck Kessie of the Ivory Coast. Both had three assists in the tournament.

But that is not his only link to Milan. He also played for his native France in their U18 and U19 teams before making the switch to Algeria in 2016. And while he played for France, he played alongside Milan’s new left back, Theo Hernandez. Additionally, he has also played with new Milan signing, Rade Krunic, while he was at Empoli. So he’s practically family already.

Old friends

Bennacer is a versatile midfielder, having played as everything from a deep-lying playmaker to a mezzala and more. He is left-footed, and he is also fast, clever, and technically strong. His passing and dribbling skills are something we haven’t seen enough of in our midfield, as are his defensive skills. At 21 years of age, it’s impossible to know how he’ll do at a club like Milan, but with the aging players we’ve had in that midfield role for the past eight to ten years, I’m happy to take the gamble on him.

Winner

I was very concerned about him when he turned up for his medicals wearing literally the worst outfit I’ve seen in a very long time. That shows some seriously poor judgment, and is not easy to forgive, let alone forget. However, after some deep soul searching, I realized that winning trophies at the international level trumps having a humane sense of fashion. Well, that and the whole offering to die for us. I’m a sucker for men pledging their lives to Milan, what can I say? Let’s just hope that the fashion thing never, ever happens again.

So he's really bad at math and fashion. But good at football.

It’s not like there is any pressure on the young midfielder. Only the hopes and dreams of Milan fans everywhere (as well has horrors and nightmares of our recent past.) But he is confident and talented, and coming off of a great tournament this year that has put his names on the lips of football fans everywhere. No one wants him to literally die, that’s just horrible, but the fact that he has offered his life for us on the pitch is immediately endearing to football fans. Whether he is good enough remains to be seen, but he has offered to give us all he has, even two thousand per cent.


This post inspired by the music of Garbage’s “I Would Die for You”


Our next match is a friendly
FC Feronikeli vs. AC Milan
Saturday, August 10 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This is Milan’s first match ever to be played in Kosovo