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AC Milan sign Bennacer in €16m deal

11:46 GMT+3 04/08/2019
IsmaelBennacer - cropped
Arsenal are said to have opted against exercising an option to match an offer for the 21-year-old midfielder, allowing him to move to San Siro

AC Milan have completed the signing of Ismael Bennacer from Empoli for a reported €16 million (£14m/$18m) fee.

Bennacer has signed a five-year contract at San Siro after his former club Arsenal were understood to have refused to take up an option to match the offer made by Milan.

The 21-year-old midfielder joined the Gunners from Arles in 2015 but made just one first-team appearance - in a 3-0 EFL Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in 2015 - and was sold to Empoli following a loan spell with Tours.

He went on to make 77 appearances for the Tuscany outfit, playing a key role in their promotion to the Italian top-flight in 2018, though he was unable to prevent them from being relegated last term. 

Bennacer, who represented France at youth level, was named Man of the Competition after supplying three assists during Algeria's triumphant Africa Cup of Nations Campaign and has represented the national team 17 times since his debut three years ago.

He has followed Rade Krunic in swapping Empoli for the Rossoneri in the close season, while Theo Hernandez joined from Real Madrid.

Bennacer's arrival comes three days after the San Siro side confirmed the signing of Rafael Leao from Lille for a reported fee of €35m (£32m/$39m).

Meanwhile, they are also close to bringing 23-year-old Flamengo defender Leo Duarte to Italy, as the Brazilian side's head coach, Jorge Jesus, said last week that a deal has been reached between the two sides.

Duarte is said to have already had a medical exam and the €11m (£10m/$12m) move is expected to be announced soon.

As well as new arrivals, Milan have bid farewell to several players in a busy period for the club, with Cristian Zapata, Ignazio Abate and Riccardo Montolivo all leaving after their contracts ended.

Also, club icon and former defender Paolo Maldini was given the technical director job this close season, while Zvonimir Boban was appointed chief football officer.