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AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer has been ruled out for six months in a potential blow to the transfer plans of Liverpool and Arsenal. Bennacer has undergone surgery on his right knee and will miss the start of next season.
The former Gunners man has been linked with a return to the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool are also said to be interested as Jurgen Klopp seeks to rejuvenate his midfield.
Bennacer suffered a serious knee injury during Milan’s Champions League semi-final defeat by rivals Inter Milan last week. His club have now confirmed that he underwent surgery, releasing a statement that read: “AC Milan announces that Ismael Bennacer underwent surgery on his right knee in Lyon this morning.
“The repair of the cartilage lesion was successfully performed by Dr. Bertrand Sonnery Cottet in the presence of AC Milan’s club doctor, Dr. Stefano Mazzoni. The recovery time is estimated to be at least six months.”
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The Algeria international was viewed as a potentially cheap target for interested clubs ahead of the summer transfer window. Bennacer’s Milan contract expires in 2024, although several reports in Italy claim that the Rossoneri are keen to extend his terms.
He could therefore be signed at a cut-price deal, with Milan perhaps unwilling to let the 25-year-old leave for free in a year’s time. That plan will now be ditched given that clubs are unlikely to want to sign a player who will be injured for the opening months of the 2023-24 season.
Bennacer – who is valued at £35million by Transfermarkt – previously enjoyed a short-lived spell in England, making just one appearance for the Gunners. He failed to play in the Premier League and left for Empoli in 2017.
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Liverpool and Arsenal will instead move on to other targets. Reds head coach Klopp is expected to want to sign at least two midfielders in the summer, with Mason Mount and Alexis Mac Allister both strongly linked with moves to Anfield.
Mount has a year remaining on his contract with Chelsea and reports suggest he will explore his options this summer, ending a near 20-year association with the West Londoners. Meanwhile, Arsenal are apparently ready to complete a £170m double swoop for Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo.
The Gunners are long-term admirers of Rice and supposedly believe they can complete a deal for the West Ham captain this summer. The Times report that Arsenal could fund the two deals by selling Granit Xhaka, Emile Smith Rowe, Rob Holding and Folarin Balogun.
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