After weeks of waiting, Ismael Bennacer finally joined up with his new Milan teammates on Wednesday as he prepares for the new season under Marco Giampaolo.
The 21-year-old played a pivotal role in Algeria’s success in the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this summer, and that in turn led to a well deserved extended break over pre-season.
However, as seen in the images below, the former Empoli midfielder is now at Milanello settling in with his new teammates and coach, and he promises to be the most vital addition of the five new signings made thus far having arrived in a €16m+ deal from Empoli, as per Fabrizio Romano.
Time will tell if further reinforcements arrive, but considering Bennacer, Rafael Leao, Leo Duarte, Theo Hernandez and Rade Krunic for now, the Algerian international could be absolutely pivotal for Giampaolo.
📸 | Bennacer joins Milan training pic.twitter.com/hNkaBQiKlK
— Milan Eye (@MilanEye) August 14, 2019
As we’ve seen during his time with Empoli and in an Algeria shirt this past summer, Bennacer will offer a boost in both the defensive and offensive phases of play if he is deployed in the holding midfield role as expected.
His energy, tenacity and work ethic off the ball will see him press the opposition into mistakes and win possession back in key areas to either kick-start attacking moves himself or set others free to do so.
Further, his reading of the game and tactical know-how shouldn’t be underestimated either, as in various roles in midfield, he has shown great awareness and positioning.
That in itself will be integral to Giampaolo’s style of play and the characteristics of his side, as he’ll want the team as a whole to apply pressure to the opposing side and win possession back higher up the field.
Bennacer essentially offers what the likes of Lucas Biglia and Tiemoue Bakayoko have offered in that role most recently, but it’s his ability on the ball which will hopefully set him apart from those before him.
As seen in his performances last season in Serie A as well as over the summer, his ability to not only win possession back but to then quickly release the ball and find players between the lines to break or create dangerous opportunities for others will be key.
We’ve seen it countless times in pre-season so far even without Bennacer in the line-up as Suso has flourished in that No.10 role and has been brilliant at finding little pockets of space between the defence and midfield of the opposition.
Coupled with Lucas Paqueta looking to do the same or perhaps Hakan Calhanoglu or Franck Kessie on the right side of the midfield three, Bennacer will have countless options in front of him and has both the vision and quality of passing to find them.
That in turn will benefit Krzysztof Piatek who will get service quicker and will be able to potentially exploit space in and around the box as opposing midfielders and defenders attempt to track back, while Bennacer should provide steeliness and solidity in front of the backline to offer them protection too.
In turn, there is a wider ranging knock-on effect which could ripple through the whole team, if Bennacer can get it right and carry out the job that Giampaolo has brought him in to do.
There is undoubtedly a lot of room for development and improvement still left in his game, and so he’ll have to make the step up and show that he can deliver at this level with higher expectations on a regular basis.
However, looking at his attributes in isolation, he has everything required to be the engine and heartbeat of Giampaolo’s line-up, as he has the perfect qualities that are needed to implement his style of play in a crucial area of the pitch.
Prêt pour cette nouvelle saison ⚽️💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/Q3KH2vGq6C
— Ismaël Bennacer (@IsmaelBennacer) August 13, 2019