Charles De Ketelaere: Brugges send Leeds a message as talks over Milan move reach significant step

Charles De Ketelaere (left) and Manchester City's Rodri battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group A match at Etihad Stadium

Leeds United still have a small glimmer of hope they could trump AC Milan to the signing of Charles De Ketelaere, after a report detailed why Club Brugges would prefer his sale to the Premier League side.

The Belgium international finds himself in high demand this summer following an excellent season for Brugges. Winning the Jupiler Pro League and competing in the Champions League has brought the player a growing list of admirers. And capturing his signature this summer has become a keenly-fought race.

That quest was initially led by Leicester City. Brendan Rodgers’ side have tracked De Ketelaere for some months. However, in recent times it is Leeds United who appear at the forefront of that chase. Indeed, the Whites have submitted what amounts to a club-record bid for the 21-year-old.

For a fair chunk of time they did appear to be in the driving seat. That offer – said to total £31.6m with bonuses – was significantly higher than Milan’s opening bid.

Indeed, the Italians’ opening gambit was reportedly around the £17.5m mark, forcing Milan into a rethink.

In their favour though has always seemingly been De Ketelaere’s choice. The player reportedly favours a switch to the reigning Serie A champions. And discussions between his agent and Milan technical director Paolo Maldini have also proved fruitful.

Now Milan have submitted a second, vastly-improved offer for De Ketelaere worth around £25.4m (€30m). Their offer also reportedly includes the chance for Brugges to sign Milan youngsters Andreas Jungdal and Emil Roback.

Leeds offer worth significantly more

However, despite the player’s preferences, Brugges would prefer to sell De Ketelaere to Leeds. Their offer is significantly higher for the forward, while Leeds are also offering a bigger first wedge up front.

As per the Daily Mirror, Leeds United are the favoured bidder, though a sale to Milan looks more likely.

‘Leeds hope to spend half the cash raked in from Raphinha’s record £65million sale to Barcelona on Belgium striker Charles De Ketelaere,” the Mirror’s David Anderson writes.

‘The Elland Road club are prepared to offer a club record £31.6million to Bruges for 21-year-old forward De Ketelaere and will meet their demands for £25.6million up front.

‘That is significantly more than rivals AC Milan have tabled. Bruges are keen to sell to Leeds but De Ketelaere would prefer to join Milan because they can offer him Champions League football.’

Charles De Ketelaere will be a miss for Leeds

Ultimately, Brugges will likely respect the player’s wishes and his move to the San Siro appears to be gathering pace.

Reports in the Italian media claim talks between De Ketelaere and Milan are gathering pace and an agreement could be soon reached. Furthermore, Brugges will likely accept Milan’s latest offering knowing that they are still collecting a record Belgium transfer fee for their star.

De Ketelaere, having scored 18 goals and added 10 assists last season, looks to be a massive star in the making. Belgium great Enzo Scifo reckons the 21-year-old will be talked about in the €100m bracket within a couple of seasons, so good has been his progress.

Leeds in battle for Charles De Ketelaere

Leeds are in a battle with AC Milan for Belgian youngster Charles De Ketelaere.

As such, his will be a big transfer miss for Leeds. The player will have thrived in the Premier League and would surely have been one of the first names on their teamsheet.

As it goes, Leeds will now have to go back to the drawing board. Another forward option they are looking at is Arnaud Kalimuendo. And there appears a confidence that Victor Orta can soon agree a deal for the 20-year-old PSG striker.