Spending the best part of the past year and a half in Arsenal’s reserves, Ismaël Bennacer finally got a loan away from the Emirates to further his career at a competitive level with Ligue 2 side Tours.
Returning to the league he was discovered in when playing for Arles-Avignon, the 19-year-old, now a full international with Algeria, spoke to C’est Vous L’Expert, relayed by La Gazette du Fennec, about how things were going far away from Arsenal.
He said: “For now things are going well with the team and my playing time. We were bottom of the table when I arrived, and now we’re out of the relegation zone. I play, gain experience and am doing well.”
Recommended to Arsène Wenger by Gilles Grimandi, the young midfielder was invited to have a one week trial with Arsenal, at the end of which the French manager called him into his office and told him “You’re not going anywhere”.
When faced with the choice, Bennacer initially wanted to stay in France, but he soon changed his mind.
He explained: “Arsenal are a French club, really. Wenger told me he was counting on me a lot and that Arsenal was the club for me when it came to my state of mind, my qualities and what they were looking for.
“Arsenal is a family oriented club who pay attention to the player’s entourage. They really want to put you in good conditions. The big different is the work, it’s very serious both technically and physically.”
As for where the youngster sees his future lying, the answer to that is Arsenal, but not before another loan somewhere, as he knows he would struggle to break into the first-team just yet.
He said: “I’d like to go back out on loan, but I’m going to go over things with Wenger in May, and it’ll be up to him to decide. Personally, I’d really like to go out on loan because at my age, I need to get as much game time as I can and not ask myself too many questions.”
Reiterating that being loaned out this season was Wenger’s idea in the first place, the 19-year-old was also full of praise for the French manager, who constantly gives him tips to further his career.
Perhaps a temporary move to Ligue 1 in the summer, then?