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With pre-season set to begin next week, it’ll be interesting to see where highly-rated midfielder Ismael Bennacer ends up once the season begins.
Bennacer joined from Arles-Avignon in 2015 and the Gunners managed to beat Manchester City to sign the 19-year-old.
He established himself as a mainstay within Steve Gatting’s u23 side before completing a loan move to Ligue 2 side Tours in January. Unsurprisingly, he flourished there and has said that he is eyeing a step-up in quality ahead of his next loan move.
It’s an understandable request and one which will stand him in good stead ahead of his plans to stake a first-team claim in the future at Arsenal. However, he also needs to realise that a new challenge elsewhere will be tougher for him, especially in Spain for instance.
Demanding a step-up will also mean he needs to improve his game if he’s to earn regular minutes of competitive football. It’s not a guarantee that just because he represents Arsenal those minutes will arrive – he needs to earn them with hard work and a positive attitude.
The only youngster that has managed this in recent seasons whilst out on-loan is Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and it’s increasingly likely that this term will finally see the youngster rewarded with a proper senior promotion.
It’s developments like these which undoubtedly spur youngsters within the Academy on to better themselves, seeing team-mates earn first-team breakthroughs whilst hoping will be the next player rewarded for their hard work at youth level.
Bennacer has already proven he’s good enough to mix it as a professional and it’d be beneficial for others to earn minutes at u23 level instead. His previous comments suggest a season-long loan move will be finalised in the coming weeks.
His existing deal with the Gunners expires in two years’ time and it’s clear that he’s highly thought of at London Colney, but needs to continue his development away from the club before coming back as a more mature midfielder with improved abilities.
It’s imperative that the right club is chosen and not one that will struggle to offer Bennacer plaaying time. Serge Gnabry (West Brom), Jon Toral (Granada) and Chuba Akpom (Brighton) are just three of the players who haven’t benefited from loan spells elsewhere and ultimately, their development stagnated as a result.
Bennacer is at a crucial stage in his progression and the last thing he needs, given the level of competition for places, is a period of relative inactivity.