Belgium sensation warned off Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool with familiar gripe

Charles De Ketelaere Bruges 2021 TEAMtalk11

Club Brugge starlet Charles De Ketelaere has been urged to delay moving to one of the European heavyweights to avoid stalling in the reserves.

The 20-year-old appears to be the next Belgian superstar after impressing for the Blauw-Zwart over the past couple of years. Having come up through the club’s youth system, the talented forward made his senior debut in September 2019. He made eight starts among 13 Belgian Pro League appearances in 2019-2020.

But the Bruges-born ace was given the nod on 26 occasions last term while featuring in every league game. He scored four goals and has 12 from 89 appearances in all competitions.

The Belgium international has also contributed 14 assists and is on the radar of several clubs. West Ham were linked last month via Calciomercato while Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United are all thought to be keen.

He is reportedly valued at around £22m – a fee that would break the Belgian transfer record. But it would be no issue for any of the Premier League clubs mentioned with Chelsea also thought to be interested.

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Ex-Belgium international Marc Degryse suggested Leicester City might be a decent option back in September. And now former scout Urbain Haesaert has questioned whether De Ketelaere should consider a move so early in his career.

“Whether a departure is a good thing, I doubt it,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws (via Sport Witness). “My principle has always been that you are only a real first division player after two successful years at the highest level. Charles is a very big talent, but he still has to develop.

“If you go to a big club now, you should see the names there. Then tell me in whose place you are going to play.

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“Of course, his agent wants to take him to AC Milan, Real Madrid or Chelsea. But from the bench, you can’t possibly develop. And that would be very unhealthy for his career.”

Sky the limit for De Ketelaere – but no rush

It seems inevitable that De Ketelaere will leave for pastures new sooner rather than later. Roberto Martinez has already handed him two Belgium caps despite his tender years.

He responded with a goal for De Rode Duivels as they lost 2-1 to Italy in the Nations League third-place play-off. The skilful attacker may well have the pick of Europe’s finest.

But Haesaert had advised him to stay at the Jan Breydel Stadium for another 18 months.

He added: “If I were Charles, I would tell my agent: ‘Give me the PSG eleven on paper, you know them. And tell me who I am going to play out of the team.’

“That also applies to Ajax, which would be a very good club for Charles, given the philosophy and style of play.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel v Southampton October 2021

“That’s why I advise Charles to stay at Club Brugge for another season. It’s a very good club, which is performing fantastically.”

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