Promised a great future at Arsenal when he first arrived from Arles-Avignon, Ismaël Bennacer, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Tours in Ligue 2, decided he didn’t want to wait anymore to play first-team football and went to Empoli in Serie B.
Used sporadically since his move from the Emirates, the 19-year-old is still getting a decent amount of game time, and, more importantly, is enjoying himself.
Speaking to DZ Foot in Algeria, Bennacer explained the thought process behind his decision to leave Arsène Wenger and give Italy a chance.
He said: “After Tours, I didn’t especially think about returning to France, but mostly to go to a club where I could express my qualities and that wanted to play more as much as possible. Plus, I felt my game needed improving tactically, and coming to Italy allows me to learn a lot about that.”
That doesn’t mean that he didn’t enjoy his time with Arsenal and playing for their reserves.
He continued: “I only have positive things to say about my time at Arsenal. I was able to continue my development at a very structured club. It allowed me to have a professional formation and I needed that step. I regret nothing from my time there. I learnt a lot. I just knew I needed to leave as I didn’t have my spot in the first-team.”
With a lot of time on his side and already featuring for Algeria (four caps), the midfielder wouldn’t be against a return to the Premier League in the future, although he is currently fighting for promotion to Serie A, which he feels is very motivating.
Who knows what type of future the former Arsenal youngster will have, but judging by his desire to progress and work on his weaknesses, it could end up being a bright one.