By Will Butcher
Arsenal starlet Ishmael Bennacer is on the radar of three Ligue 1 clubs and a slew of second-tier English outfits ahead of the January transfer window, according to a report.
Algerian newspaper Le Buteur claim the 18-year-old star has caught the attention of Lorient, Guingamp and Le Havre, after starring in the Gunners’ reserve side.
The report also claims that a handful of Championship clubs in addition to a number of Belgian outfits are also keen on Arsenal’s number 36 as he grows tired of playing in Arsenal’s development side.
It is said that manager Arsene Wenger could allow the wonderkid to leave in January in order for him to play first-team football.
Bennacer’s displays for the Gunners has even led to being given his first senior Algeria cap, after the France-born star featured against Lesotho during a 6-0 win.
Known for his versatility and ability to play across midfield, Bennacer was brought in by the Gunners last year at just 17 from fourth division side Arles Avignon.
Bennacer is highly regarded as a future first-team player by Arsene Wenger, after making his debut last season during the Gunners’ poor League Cup loss to Sheffield Wednesday, which finished 3-0 to the Yorkshire outfit.
With the January transfer window approaching, Bennacer could leave the Gunners on loan, with a permanent move unlikely as the midfielder has four years remaining on his Emirates deal.
Football Insider verdict:
Wenger is intelligent enough not to get rid of such a highly-rated star from his youth academy, especially as Bennacer has already made his debut for the North London giants. A loan move away from the Emirates would most likely be favoured by the Gunners boss, who is expected to give the Algeria international a chance to gain first-team experience. It remains to be seen if Wenger wants that to be in England, or if Bennacer will be allowed to move abroad to one of the French Ligue 1 sides. Bennacer should use the inspiration of the likes of Alex Iwobi, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Gibbs as players who have progressed through the academy at Arsenal.
In other Arsenal transfer news, the Gunners are reportedly interested in this La Liga star.