The agent of AC Milan new boy Charles De Ketelaere has come clean on the offer Leeds United made for his client – and claims they weren’t the only Premier League side on the Belgian’s trail.
The future of the 21-year-old playmaker has proved one of the transfer sagas of the summer with Leeds chasing the player long and hard. They submitted a firm offer, totally a club-record £33.9m, for the player at the end of June. But that bid lay on the table at his then-club, Club Brugges, much to Leeds’ frustration.
The only issue really for Leeds was that De Ketelaere only seemingly had eyes for Milan. He made clear from the off that they were the club he wished to sign for. And with Milan able to offer Champions League football, it seemed that Leeds’ hands were tied.
That said, it took Milan several attempts to finally strike a deal for De Ketelaere. And amid claims that they couldn’t match Leeds’ bid, the Whites always remained in the mix to sign the Belgian.
Ultimately, Milan’s perserverance paid off, with the Italian champions striking a deal for De Ketelaere. And despite the deal earning Brugges less, the player’s clear opposition to signing for Leeds meant they had little choice.
Now De Ketelaere’s representatives Tom De Mul has spoken out on the long-running transfer saga. They have confirmed theories that Leeds United did put the best offer on the table.
However, in a new revelation, De Mul also reveals that three other Premier League sides were also watching the player closely.
Leeds presented the best deal for Charles De Ketelaere
“West Ham, Newcastle, Arsenal have all followed Charles but they never pushed through. Even Barcelona has followed him for a long time, but I didn’t think that was the right step,” De Mul told HLN.
“Financially, Leeds would have been the best option. For Club Brugge, for Charles, for us. But Charles wanted to wait a little longer. When Charles felt that Milan were 100% serious things started to turn.
“At one point De Ketelaere said ‘I absolutely want to go to Milan.’ Then you are left with a club that has too high expectations because they received a higher offer. I told De Ketelaere ‘If you want to go to Milan, I’m behind you.’ But I also added, ‘Get ready for some rough weeks’.
“After the meeting in Belgium, the clubs no longer wanted to talk to each other. Then we went to Lugano. Two superpowers confronted each other and it became a real battle. The outside world cannot understand how difficult it has been to resolve the situation.”
Leeds have since moved on to other options and the club are reportedly on the trail of PSG striker Arnaud Kalimuendo. To that end, a report on Wednesday revealed a move to Leeds for Kalimuendo may have taken a positive step forward.
Forward explains desire to move to Milan
De Ketelaere, meanwhile, has explained his reasons for choosing Milan.
Speaking to Milan TV, as cited by Sempre Milan, De Ketelaere has spoken of his delight at finally getting the deal done.
“Becoming a footballer is something you can only imagine. I have always dreamed of being one, but I would never have believed I could play for a club like AC Milan. Today this is a reality and I’m very proud,” he said.
“I spoke to Ricky [Massara] and Paolo [Maldini], they told me they believed in me and wanted me at AC Milan,” the 21-year-old said.
“I had talks with them and my agents had been in contact with them since the beginning of the year. When the market starts there is always some confusion.
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“Then I had the chance to speak with the Milan directors and the coach. I really wanted to come to AC Milan, it took some time but now I’m happy.”
And in a vow to Milan fans, Charles De Ketelaere added: “I promise to always give my best in every match and every time I wear this jersey. I hope to win trophies. The only thing I can promise is that I will give my all.”