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Transfer target could be Pep Guardiola's next Man City star

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Earlier this week, it was reported that Pep Guardiola was weighing up a move for exciting AC Milian midfielder Ismael Bennacer.

According to the reports from Foot Mercato, Guardiola has been monitoring Bennacer for some time and could be ready to make a move in the next transfer window as he looks to bolster his options in midfield ahead of the new season, particularly given that influential midfielder David Silva is set to leave Manchester City at the end of the campaign

In Seria A, Bennacer has been one of Milan’s most consistent performers, racking up over 2,000 minutes of competitive action this season. He made the initial switch to Italy by joining Empoli from Premier League rivals Arsenal in 2017 and a string of impressive performances persuaded Milan to sign the midfielder for £14million last summer.

For Milan, he usually plays as a deep-lying midfielder either as a lone or double-pivot. The 22-year-old is extremely mobile and athletic meaning he can cover a lot of ground quickly when the ball is lost in transition and when opponents look to launch a quick counter-attack.

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He isn’t the tallest at just 5ft 9in, but he does boast a fairly decent defensive duel success rate of just under 59 per cent this season. He’s also intelligent enough to know when not to engage in these duels and instead opt to just slow down an opponent, limiting passing options and allowing team-mates to recover into a defensive shape.

Due to his deep positioning on the pitch, the Algerian isn’t a prolific goalscorer, nor is he a huge creator of goals, yet he is a top-class passer of the ball. This season, he has averaged just under 54 passes per 90 with a pass success rate of just under 88 per cent.

For Milan, he is tasked with orchestrating possession play and setting the tempo for his team. This means the bulk of his passes go backwards or sideways, however, he is capable of long accurate balls forward when the opportunities present themselves.

A good example of his passing capabilities is below, taken from his last match for Milan vs Genoa.

Bennacer's pass map vs Genoa

Not just a good passer, he also does a good job of evading both pressure and tackles from opposition players by relying on decent dribbling abilities to weave his way out of tight spaces.

City have utilised a 4-3-3 formation in 38 per cent of their matches this season, with Rodri almost exclusively used as the number six. If Bennacer did join, it would be unlikely that he would dislodge Rodri at this stage of the career, yet he could be the perfect partner in a double pivot.

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There is no place for a double pivot in a 4-3-3, yet there is in Guardiola’s other favoured formation, a 4-2-3-1. City have utilised the same in 29 per cent of their matches this season, but Rodri’s midfield partner in the double pivot has varied from players such as ?lkay Gündo?an, Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.

Bennacer could, therefore, be a consistent partner in the middle for Rodri when deploying this 4-2-3-1 formation, therein allowing the likes of De Bruyne to play more starring roles in more advances areas of the pitch.

The Milan player is tied into a contract until 2024 and the Italian giants are not eager to sell, meaning the midfielder may not come cheap. However, his current skill set, added with his age and projected career trajectory means that he could turn out to be a worthwhile investment for City.

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