Ismael Bennacer reveals why he chose Milan after talking to Marco Giampaolo, a new role and being prepared to “give everything for my team.”
The 21-year-old made his debut as a substitute during the 1-0 defeat to Udinese, but is expected to start against Brescia this weekend.
“Coming to Milan is the result of so much hard work, but it is just the beginning,” the Algeria international told DAZN in Italy.
He had big offers come in after his performances in the Africa Cup of Nations, but had already given his word to the Rossoneri and represents a bargain from Empoli at €16m plus €2m in potential bonuses.
“Milan had also approached me before the Africa Cup of Nations. I am a patient type of guy, I don’t like making hasty decisions. I told my agent to filter through the offers and only call me when there was concrete interest.
“He said ‘Milan want you more than anyone’ and it was also very important for me to receive the phone call from Giampaolo, asking me to join him with the Rossoneri.
“The Coach told me that he likes players with my style, that my role is very important in his vision of football. That represents a great challenge for me and I do love a challenge.
“He also said I could work as a playmaker, even if there is competition for the role, but I do really appreciate playing in that position. It’s true, I’ve been doing it for under a year and the first time I played there was against Juventus, but I know that I can really grow into it.”
Bennacer has a great deal of quality, but also impressed during last season at Empoli with his determination.
“When I am on the pitch, I am starving. I want to give everything for my team, I see my 10 teammates out there as my family, my brothers. I could die for my family.”
His profile shot up after the Africa Cup of Nations, won by Algeria and with Bennacer named Player of the Tournament.
“I still haven’t entirely realised what happened. At the end of the day, I only played seven games for Algeria. I am young and need to improve, but I am happy, because it’s not every day you get named Player of the Tournament at AFCON.”
He also went viral when flying in for his Milan medical, due to a spectacular outfit of shirt and matching shorts in bright print.
“I usually dress quite discreetly, but that day I put those clothes on and I didn’t think everyone would be talking about them! When my agent saw me, he said: ‘Thank goodness you’re in Milan, now you can go and buy some new clothes!’”