Liverpool and Arsenal are both interested in signing AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer, Italy has reportedly reported.
Bennacer was in the Gunners’ books between 2015 and 2017, but only made one first-team appearance in that time.
After failing to break into the North Londoners’ first team, the Algerian international joined Italian side Empoli, where he spent two years before securing a £14m transfer to AC Milan.
Bennacer quickly established himself as a key player and helped the Rossoneri win Serie A last season.
The defensive midfielder has featured 31 times in all competitions this season, but only for nine minutes in Milan’s Champions League round of 16 win against Tottenham.
Milan are a little depressed at the moment, having failed to win any of their last three Serie A matches, with their winless run incidentally starting when Bennacer returned from injury.
Bennacer has been strongly linked with a return to England in recent months, although he did sign a new four-and-a-half-year contract in January.
However, that hasn’t stopped the rumors from circulating, with both Liverpool and Arsenal both interested.
A report from CalcioMercatoWeb claims Arsenal could induce Milan into a sale by offering them Folarin Balogun in an exchange.
Balogun has shined for Stade Reims on loan this season, scoring 16 goals in 26 Ligue 1 appearances.
The Serie A champions have been linked to the 21-year-old since January and his future at the Emirates is in doubt.
The Gunners could be looking to cash in on Balogun while his shares are high given the fact that Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah are both at the club.
If Bennacer were legitimately a prime target for Mikel Arteta this could be a sensible deal to strike, provided Arsenal don’t have to pay a large fee beyond letting Balogun go.
The report said Arteta sees the Algerian as “the right profile” for his midfield, despite signing Jorginho and chasing Moises Caicedo in the winter transfer window.
This has led to Arsenal scouts “monitoring” the 25-year-old “closely”.
In the meantime, Transfer market report it Liverpool are ready to fight the Gunners for the signing of Bennacer.
The same outlet claims that the Reds have already decided not to trigger the option to buy Arthur Melo from Juventus this summer.
The Brazilian midfielder joined the Anfield club on loan after Jurgen Klopp realized at the end of the summer transfer window that he needed to sign another midfielder.
Arthur made just one appearance for Liverpool – coming on as a late substitute in their 4-1 Champions League defeat by Napoli – after sustaining a sustained knee injury last October.
Perhaps it came as a surprise to learn that Liverpool would not terminate the 26-year-old’s loan deal despite the fact that he did not return to training until February.
He was an unused substitute during last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth.
Despite Liverpool desperately needing reinforcements in midfield, Transfer market have confirmed that the Premier League giants have no desire to sign Arthur on a permanent basis.
He will return to Juventus this summer. Liverpool have the option to sign Arthur for £30.1m.
The Reds are expected to sign at least two new midfielders in the summer window, with Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham their main target.
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