Ramy Bensebaini has admitted he almost joined Arsenal back in 2015, and the only thing that ended up stopping him was paperwork problems as a result of his nationality.
Back in 2015, Bensebaini was playing for Belgian side Lierse SK on loan from Algerian team Paradou AC. According to him, that’s when he got taken on trial with Arsenal.
“I spent time there, a month on trial, in 2015,” Bensebaini confirmed in Ouest France on Tuesday. “I was training with the first team and I was playing matches with the reserves. I had spoken several times with Arsene Wenger.
“I was going to sign, but there were problems in relations to my papers, my nationality. In the end, it didn’t happen. It makes me happy to face Arsenal (in the Europa League).”
Bensebaini went back to Lierse until the end of his loan, then joined Montpellier on another temporary deal. In the end, he made a permanent transfer to Ligue 1 by joining Stade Rennais in 2016.
Things have changed a lot since his trial. At the time, the defender was playing as a centre-back, but he now plays as a left-back. He’s improved significantly since 2015 and holds down a starting spot in the Rennes team whenever he’s fit. Hopefully, he doesn’t enjoy his reunion with Arsenal too much.
M’Baye Niang, previously of Watford and AC Milan, also had a trial with the Gunners. That’s seemingly not where Arsenal’s interest in the 24-year-old ended, with rumours last summer that the Premier League side enquired over his availability. In the end, the winger transferred from Milan to Torino, before moving on loan to Rennes.
Both will seemingly come into Thursday’s match with a little bit more of a point to prove.