Ismaël Bennacer

Ismaël Bennacer (Arabic: إسماعيل بن ناصر; born 1 December 1997) is an Algerian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Serie A club Milan and the Algeria national team.

Ismaël Bennacer
Personal information
Full name Ismaël Bennacer[1]
Date of birth (1997-12-01) 1 December 1997 (age 23)[2]
Place of birth Arles, France
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[2]
Position(s) Defensive Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 4
Youth career
2004–2015 Arles
2015–2017 Arsenal
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2014–2015 Arles B 16 (0)
2015 Arles 6 (0)
2015–2017 Arsenal 0 (0)
2017Tours (loan) 16 (1)
2017–2019 Empoli 76 (2)
2019– Milan 46 (1)
National team
2015 France U18 4 (1)
2015–2016 France U19 7 (1)
2016– Algeria 26 (1)
Men's football
Representing  Algeria
Africa Cup of Nations
Winner2019 Egypt
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 12:39, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 09:58, 30 March 2021 (UTC)

At club level, Bennacer has represented teams in France, England and Italy throughout his career. At international level, he made his senior debut for Algeria in 2016, and has since represented his nation at two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations. He was a member of the team that won the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, and was named the player of the tournament.

Club career

Early career

After starting his career with French club Arles,[3] Bennacer signed for Premier League side Arsenal in July 2015.[4] He made his senior Arsenal debut in the League Cup fourth round away to Sheffield Wednesday on 27 October 2015, replacing Theo Walcott after 19 minutes, after the latter had already replaced the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in an eventual 3–0 loss.[5]

On 31 January 2017, it was announced that Bennacer would join Ligue 2 side Tours on loan for the remainder of the 2016–17 season.[6] He scored his first goal for Tours on 14 April 2017 against Sochaux from a free kick.[7]

On 21 August 2017, Bennacer joined Italian club Empoli.[8] In the 2017–18 Serie B season, Bennacer made 39 appearances and scored 2 goals as Empoli won the Serie B title, earning promotion to Serie A.[9][10] Despite Empoli's relegation the following season, Bennacer's performances confirmed his status as one of the most promising young midfielders in Europe.[10]

A.C. Milan

On 4 August 2019, A.C. Milan announced they had signed Bennacer from Empoli for a reported transfer fee of €16 million plus bonuses. He underwent his medical on 23 July and signed a five-year contract, with a reported salary of €1.5 million per season.[11] He made his club debut on 25 August, coming on as a second–half substitute in a 1–0 away defeat to Udinese in Serie A;[12][13] his home and full–debut came on 31 August, in a 1–0 victory over Brescia.[13][14] On 18 July 2020, he scored his first goal for the club and in the Italian top flight in a 5–1 home win over Bologna in Serie A.[15]

International career

Although he had previously represented France at youth level, on 31 July 2016, the Algerian Football Federation announced that Bennacer had opted to switch his international allegiance and represent Algeria internationally.[16] He debuted for the Algeria national team in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier, a 6–0 win over Lesotho.[17] Bennacer was called up on 11 January 2017 to Algeria's squad for the African Cup of Nations of 2017[18] to replace Saphir Taïder, who suffered an injury in training.[19]

At the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, Bennacer helped Algeria to their first title in 29 years, finishing the competition as the joint-top assist provider, alongside Franck Kessié, with three assists, including one for Baghdad Bounedjah's match-winning goal against Senegal in the final on 19 July.[20][21][22] He was later voted both the "Best Young Player" and the "Best Player" of the tournament.[23][24][25]

Style of play

A dynamic, tenacious, energetic, diminutive, and versatile left-footed player, who is regarded as a highly promising prospect in modern football, Bennacer is capable of playing in several midfield roles, and has been used as a deep-lying playmaker in a holding role in midfield, as an attacking midfielder, or as an central offensive-minded midfielder, known as the mezzala role in Italian football. His main characteristics are his speed, vision, intelligence, composure, dribbling skills, passing, and technique; he is also known for his ability to transition from defence into attack.[26][27][28]

Personal life

Bennacer was born in Arles, France to a Moroccan father and an Algerian mother.[29] He has described himself as a devout practicing Muslim, praying 5 times a day, including during training sessions and half-time breaks.[30][31]

Career statistics


As of match played 18 April 2021[9]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Arles-Avignon II 2013–14 CFA 2 2020
2014–15 140140
Total 160160
Arles-Avignon 2014–15 Ligue 2 60110071
Arsenal 2015–16 Premier League 0000100010
Tours (loan) 2016–17 Ligue 2 1610000161
Empoli 2017–18 Serie B 39200392
2018–19 Serie A 37010380
Total 762100000772
Milan 2019–20 Serie A 31140351
2020–21 150009[lower-alpha 1]0240
Total 461400090591
Career total 16046110901765
  1. Appearance(s) in UEFA Europa League


As of match played 29 March 2021[32]
International goals
Scores and results list Algeria's goal tally first.
1.13 October 2020Cars Jeans Stadion, The Hague, Netherlands Mexico1–12–2Friendly








  1. "Algeria" (PDF). Confederation of African Football. 15 June 2019. p. 1. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  2. "Premier League Player Profile Ismael Bennacer". Barclays Premier League. 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  3. "ISMAËL BENNACER IS A NEW AC MILAN PLAYER". A.C. Milan. 4 August 2019. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  4. Sanderson, Jamie (29 July 2015). "Arsenal 'complete transfer of AC Arles-Avignon star Ismael Bennacer'". Metro. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  5. "Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Arsenal". BBC Sport. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  6. "Ismael Bennacer joins Tours on loan". Arsenal Media Group. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  7. "Tours en route pour le maintien (3-1 contre Sochaux), Orléans replonge à Nîmes (0-2)". (in French).
  8. "Arsenal youngster Bennacer joins Empoli". 21 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  9. Ismaël Bennacer at Soccerway. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  10. Milan, A. C. "FOCUS: ISMAËL BENNACER". AC Milan. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  11. Football Italia Staff (4 August 2019). "Official: Bennacer Joins Milan". Football Italia. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  12. "Udinese vs. AC Milan - Football Match Summary - August 25, 2019 - ESPN". 25 August 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  13. Triolo, Daniele (1 September 2019). "Bennacer impressiona: il Milan ha trovato un faro a centrocampo" (in Italian). Pianeta Milan. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  14. "AC Milan vs. Brescia - Football Match Summary - August 31, 2019 - ESPN". 31 August 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  15. "Match report AC Milan 5-1 Bologna, Serie A 2019/2020". AC Milan. 18 July 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  16. Toufik O. (31 July 2016). "Bennacer (Arsenal) choisit officiellement l'Algérie" (in French). DZfoot. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  17. "CAN 2017 : Algérie 6-0 Lesotho" (in French). DZfoot. 4 September 2016.
  18. "Arsenal midfielder Ismael Bennacer handed shock call up to Algeria's Africa Cup of Nations squad".
  19. M-A-D (11 January 2017). "CAN 2017 : Ismael Bennacer remplace Taider" (in French). DZfoot. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  20. "Algeria celebrate second Afcon title after beating Senegal". BBC Sport. 19 July 2019.
  21. "AC Milan snap up Algeria's Africa Cup star Bennacer". The Score. 4 August 2019. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  22. Otieno, Imran (20 July 2019). "Top Assists charts at the 2019 African Cup of Nations". Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  23. @CAF_Online (19 July 2019). "Pulling the strings from midfield like a boss Ismaël Bennacer is the #TotalAFCON2019 best player" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  24. Ames, Nick (24 July 2019). "Africa Cup of Nations: Bennacer dazzles, Ziyech disappoints on transfer stage". ESPN FC. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  25. Otieno, Imran (20 July 2019). "AFCON Player of the Tournament and Best Young Player are announced". Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  26. Wayne Girard (3 April 2019). "Bennacer, football's artist". Football Italia. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  27. Benedetto Ferrara (2 March 2018). "Talento Bennacer dribbling e gol lo manda l'Arsenal" (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  28. Wilson, Sam (18 July 2019). "Milan should be excited by Empoli pair". Football Italia. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  29. Chaillou, Clément. "CAN 2019: qui est Bennacer, la révélation de l'Algérie?". RMC (in French). Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  31. 9:09
  32. Ismaël Bennacer at
  33. "Algeria hold on against Senegal to win Afcon". BBC Sport. 19 July 2019.
  34. Kappel, David (21 July 2019). "Caf Announces Afcon Team of The Tournament". Retrieved 25 July 2019.