Second Arsenal youngster departs on deadline day as Ismael Bennacer joins Tours FC on loan

Tony Mogan
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Arsenal transfer targets

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Arsenal youngster Ismael Bennacer has returned to France to join Ligue 2 side Tours FC on loan until the end of the season.

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Bennacer, 19, joined the Gunners in the summer of 2015 from hometown club AC Arles-Avignon, signing a five-year deal with the club despite receiving a better offer from Chelsea, according to his former club.

The attacking midfielder was a surprise call up for the Algeria squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, having switched his international allegiance from France last year.

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But following their elimination at the group stages of the competition last week, Bennacer has now returned to France, as confirmed by Tours, with Arsene Wenger keen for the youngster to secure some first-team opportunities.

The Algeria international has made a single appearance for the Gunners' first-team to date in a League Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday in 2015. Upon joining the club, he revealed the opportunity to work with Arsene Wenger was key to his decision to opt for north London.

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"I was a worried in my head about going abroad," Bennacer said. "I have never left home before, I thought about staying in France in order for more game time too. [Arsenal is] the most French of the English clubs.

"He [Wenger] told me that he was happy for me, that he thought I had the potential to succeed here."

Ismael Bennacer
Ismael Bennacer

Bennacer becomes the second player to leave Arsenal on a loan deal on transfer deadline day following Gedion Zelalem's move to Dutch second tier side VVV-Venlo for the remainder of the season.

Zelalem, a highly-rated midfielder who was linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund earlier this month, spent last season on loan at Rangers. Arsenal have now decided to send him to VVV Venlo after he made just two appearances during the first part of the 2016-17 campaign, coming off the bench in EFL Cup games against Reading and Nottingham Forest.

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