Arsenal are weighing up the prospect of bringing AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer back to the Emirates and could include Thomas Partey in a shock player-plus-cash deal.

Arsenal are lining up a move for AC Milan central midfielder Ismael Bennacer ahead of the January transfer window. That’s according to Italian outlet Calciomercatoweb, which claims that the Gunners are ready to offer €20 million in cash plus the price tag of Thomas Partey, who would effectively take Bennacer’s place.

The total package would be worth around €55 million. The report adds that the aforementioned Arsenal bid might not be enough to lure Milan, who will say a “categorical no” to a bid of “less than €60 million in cash” and will not entertain any bids below that mark.

Bennacer was a rising star in Arsenal’s youth ranks between 2015 and 2017 but was sold to Empoli for a fee of less than £1 million in August 2017 after only making one senior appearance for the Gunners.

And the north London club has lived to regret their decision, as Bennacer’s stellar performances earned him a £14 million move to Milan two years later, with the Algeria international since becoming a key member for the Rossoneri.

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The 24-year-old has gone on to make 126 appearances for the club across all competitions during his three-and-a-half-year stay so far, including 31 in Serie A during the 2021-22 title-winning season, when he played a pivotal role in establishing a highly-efficient midfield alongside Franck Kessie and Sandro Tonali.

He has also made a promising start to the current season, chipping in with a goal and an assist in 15 Serie A appearances.

The midfielder is under contract at San Siro until 2024, but the report says that the player will stall any fresh contract talks if the Gunners’ interest becomes more prominent.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has been keen to strengthen in central midfield, a position that remained unfilled despite a five-star summer window. And, according to Calciomercatoweb, Arteta is considering a move for his former teammate, with the Gunners set to make a formal approach in the coming months.

The Arsenal boss is after a new midfielder who can combine creativity with defensive prowess, with Leicester’s Youri Tielemans still heavily linked to the club. Bennacer fits the profile perfectly owing to his press-resistance, and dribble-heavy attributes, while he boasts tremendous ability in tight spaces and master at progressing the ball high up the pitch with mazy runs.

That being said, this transfer swap deal mooted is incredibly unlikely to go through and seems to have no substance to it. First of all, Milan would be reluctant to part ways with the player having seen Kessie leave to join Barcelona on a free transfer last summer.

The proposed swap deal is also ridiculous. There would be no point in the Gunners letting Partey go and bringing in another €60 million or so midfielder as his replacement.

Partey has cemented himself as an integral player and a nailed-on starter for Arsenal, although he has been hampered by injury issues in recent seasons. He has developed a great chemistry with Granit Xhaka, which is a big reason for Arsenal’s rise to the top of the Premier League tree this term. They could make do with a different midfielder, but it’s difficult to see them cutting ties with Partey anytime soon.

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