After extending his stay at reigning Serie A champions AC Milan, midfielder Ismael Bennacer spoke of the happiness he has found with the Italian giants and how the club matches his own ambitions for the coming years.
The 25-year-old left his hometown club Arles for Premier League side Arsenal in 2015, but made just one appearance in three years in London, before finding a perfect home on the peninsula with his talents initially flourishing at Empoli.
His performances with the newly promoted club convinced the Rossoneri to hand the Tuscan’s €16 million to take him north in the summer of 2019 and within three years he was playing a vital role in them clinching a first Scudetto in a decade.
Match made in heaven in Milan
The contract discussions were rumbling on for some time and there were times where it seemed likely that the Algerian would be leaving the club with a return to the Premier League on the cards. Milan will now pay him €4 million per season.
He has made it clear that the hard work will continue as he seeks to win more trophies with the Diavolo.
“I’m very, very keen to continue with Milan,” the Algerian international told Milan TV after signing a new contract. “I’m part of this family and I want to give even more for the club and the fans, and show everyone that I really care.”
“The path we’ve taken already and we’re on, are part of my goals,” noted Bennacer, who is keen to lift more trophies with the Rossoneri. “We’ve done a great job and we’re still doing it.”
“The strength of a team is the group and that includes everyone: from warehouse workers to cooks. We are very different from three years ago.”
Old head on young shoulders
Having made over 100 appearances in all competitions for Milan, Bennacer joked he feels like a veteran amongst one of the youngest set of players in the Italian top flight and the team still has plenty to learn as they evolve together.
“We have a young group. I feel old and I’m 25 years old. It means that we have a lot to learn and to do,” he said.
“We must be united. Whether the younger players or the older ones.”
Bennacer will have plenty of time to play an important role in the development of this Milan side, after signing an extension until June 30, 2027, that includes a €50m buyout clause that cannot be activated until July 2024 at the earliest and is only eligible for teams outside of Italy.