It’s fair to say that, when Arsenal flogged Ismael Bennacer for just £900,000 in 2017, they could not have imagined that his market value would rise by 45 times in the space of just three years.
But on a day when Gunners legend Charlie Nicholas slammed the Emirates hierarchy for ‘getting it all wrong’ in the transfer market, it seems only fitting that the extent of another blunder has become abundantly clear.
“The reality is for years and years, even under Arsene Wenger, we sold Patrick Vieira, we sold Thierry Henry and most of our big players. There was nothing wrong with change, but we sold them quite young when we weren’t perhaps going to get the full benefit of them,” Nicholas tells Sky Sports.
Soon enough, Bennacer’s name will be on that list.
Unlike Vieira, Henry, Samir Nasri, Aaron Ramsey and more, the Algerian international was far from a first-team regular when he left north London for Italy.
In fact, Bennacer had just one senior appearance under his belt – and that came in a gruesome EFL Cup hammering at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday.
But in an era where Arsenal are crying out for a midfield general capable of gunning down even the most gifted of opponents in the centre of the park, you have to wonder why Arsenal were so quick to sell a player Wenger had big hopes for.
According to FootMercato, Bennacer has a £45 million release-clause in his contract these days. A man who inspired Algeria to Africa Cup of Nations glory last year is apparently on the radar of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City after a fine campaign at AC Milan.
And, just to pour a hefty does of salt into the wounds, Arsenal were in talks to trigger a buy-back clause in Bennacer’s contract in the summer of 2019 (Gianluca di Marzio).
When they start selling time machines, expect Arsenal to be at the front of the queue.