by Lewis Ambrose

17 year-old Ismael Bennacer rejected interest from Manchester City to sign a five year deal for Arsenal, and has now explained why he chose the Gunners.

The French midfielder is quoted in L’Equipe saying that he expected to stay in France to carry on progressing with AC Arles-Avignon but he has now accepted a move to Arsenal, which will see him spend his immediate future playing reserve football instead, after being convinced that the club trusts him.

“I was a bit apprehensive about going to play abroad, I have never lived away from home and I thought I would stay in France in order to gain game time,” Bennacer said.

Back in July the teenager had a week’s trial in London, which culminated in a meeting with Wenger where the Arsenal manager told the young Frenchman “he was happy with him and he had the potential to make it here at Arsenal.”

The youngster won’t train with the first team just yet but is encouraged by the signings of Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Yassin Fortune, meaning he won’t be the only new player from France in the youth ranks. Arsenal have had a reputation for helping young French players for a long time now and Bennacer, along with the two recruits from RC Lens, will only be the latest players on a very long list.

Any fears that the midfielder initially had about joining have since been allayed.

“I was a bit worried about it at the beginning but when I see the training conditions here, I could not have found a better place to improve.”

Arsenal considered arranging a loan move for the midfielder but he will now remain at the club and develop with the U21 team.

“I will have to show them my potential, if they have signed me for five years, they surely must trust in me.”

There’s no better place for a young player develop, Arsenal will look after him and he’ll be given every opportunity to impress. Hopefully he takes it.

(Thanks to our own Sylvain Jamet for the translation from the hard copy of L’Equipe.)