Ismael Bennacer admits he left Arsenal because he wanted to play, something he’s certainly been doing in Italy with AC Milan.

AC Milan's Algerian midfielder Ismael Bennacer (L) celebrates with AC Milan's Belgian midfielder Alexis Saelemaeker after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Bologna played behind closed doors on July 15, 2020 at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)
AC Milan’s Algerian midfielder Ismael Bennacer (L) celebrates with AC Milan’s Belgian midfielder Alexis Saelemaeker after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Bologna played behind closed doors on July 15, 2020 at the San Siro Stadium in Milan. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

Last summer, Bennacer was linked with a return to Arsenal, after they sold him to Empoli in 2017 for £900k, due to a buy-back clause they had in his contract. The club opted against bringing the defensive midfielder back to London and took the £4.35m sell-on fee instead.

Bennacer then joined AC Milan for £14.4m and proceeded to make himself a first team regular immediately. Arsenal netted another £4.35m from their sell-on clause.

The Algerian has previously spoken about how he has no regrets over leaving Arsenal, but this time, when speaking to The Athletic, he was a bit more blunt about things.

“I had three years left on my deal,” he said, “but I wanted to play and besides, they weren’t against my sale, so I left.”

Ismael Bennacer Arsenal: MILAN, ITALY - JULY 07: Ismael Bennacer of AC Milan gestures during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Juventus at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on July 7, 2020 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
MILAN, ITALY – JULY 07: Ismael Bennacer of AC Milan gestures during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Juventus at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on July 7, 2020 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Publicly, Arsenal say that Bennacer’s size was part of their reasoning when they decided to let him go but that makes no sense. Look at Santi Cazorla, who was already at the club three years when they bought Bennacer from AC Arles.

He’s a full seven centimetres smaller than Bennacer. As a fellow shortie, seven cm is a LOT, though not as much as you can get from betting sites uk.

Arsenal's Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla (L) and Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta (R) attend training for the forthcoming UEFA Champions League group B football match against FC Schalke 04 at Arsenal's training ground, London Colney, North London, England on October 23, 2012. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK
AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK

“I arrived in England in July 2015,” Bennacer said earlier this year. “Finally, in September, I got some time on the pitch, but I was thrown on after two other injuries against Sheffield, played wide left in a trident attack, which I had never done before.

“I felt incredible pressure and wasn’t sure what was going on.

“I never played again after that, but I have no regrets, as I still got to train with important players like Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla. I had four years left on the Arsenal contract, but I had to be at a club where they really wanted me.”

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.