At least two Italian football clubs have their eyes on Moroccan defender Medhi Benatia who currently plays for Qatari club Al-Duhail SC.
AC Milan, currently at the top of the Italian football league Serie A’s ranking, would like to sign a contract with the former Atlas Lions captain during the upcoming winter transfer window, Tutto Mercato Web reported.
Genoa CFC, currently ranked 18th in Serie A, is also interested in recruiting the 33-year-old defender, according to Football Italia.
Medhi Benatia has accomplished some of his best achievements in Italy and in Europe. A return to European stadiums does not seem far-fetched, especially since the player has so far not renewed his contract with Al-Duhail SC, which ends in January.
In a recent interview with SportWeek, the athlete himself did not exclude the possibility.
“After my contract expires. I could stay here [in Qatar], but I could also go back to Europe. And, in this case, Italy would be my favorite destination,” Benatia said.
The statement indicates the Moroccan player’s willingness to still compete at the highest levels of football in European leagues.
Football leagues in Qatar, along with other Gulf countries, have long been seen as “retirement leagues” where players nearing the end of their careers go to compete.
Medhi Benatia has played for three major Italian clubs — Udinese Calcio, AS Roma, and Juventus FC — and German giant FC Bayern Munich before leaving for Qatar in January 2019.
Many commentators criticized the player for his choice, saying that he still has the ability to compete at the highest levels.
While playing in Europe, and for a few months after he joined Al-Duhail SC, Benatia was the undisputed captain of the Moroccan national team.
The player, however, announced his retirement from international football in October 2019, a few months after the Atlas Lions’ deceiving elimination from the African Cup of Nations (CAN).
After representing Morocco in 58 international games and leading the Atlas Lions to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Benatia believed it was time for him to give younger players the chance to represent their country.