Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Charles De Ketelaere: Transfer picture changes for Leeds as Phil Hay update names star’s No 1 choice

Charles De Ketelaere of Club Brugge, SS Lazio v Club Brugge, Champions League

Leeds United remain hopeful of a deal to sign Charles De Ketelaere this summer amid claims that the player’s first-choice transfer move may fail to materialise.

The Whites are making ambitious plans to seriously strengthen the quality of their squad this summer. Having diced with relegation last season, the club knows they need better quality and quantity in their ranks to avoid a repeat. And they have already recruited well, with Brenden Aaronson, Rasmus Kristensen and Marc Roca signing up.

However, Leeds want more and trusted transfer guru Fabrizio Romano claims efforts are underway to bring in three more quality additions.

Of those, it would be the signing of De Ketelaere that would most set pulses racing. The Belgian star is regarded as the heir to Kevin De Bruyne within his nation’s media and is seen as a star of enormous potential. Knowing Leeds were short of attacking options last season, De Ketelaere would certainly prove an excellent addition.

However, competition for the forward remains strong. While Leeds United are keen, so too are Leicester City and AC Milan. To that end, the Foxes’ interest in the 26-goal star has been well documented for some time.

Milan lead the chase – but complications may hinder deal

That said, Milan are probably the strong favourites to land De Ketelaere. The Italian champions can offer the 21-year-old Champions League football – something neither Leeds or Leicester can.

And The Athletic’s Phil Hay, speaking on his podcast, confirms that Milan are the favourites still to land the player. However, he also reveals that the Serie A side remain in something of a state of flux and their indecisiveness means a move there is far from certain.

“De Ketelaere the feeling everywhere has been that he will go to Milan in Italy,” Hay explained. “But Milan are going through a strange period at the moment, they don’t seem that organised this summer or that decisive.

“I spoke to someone in Belgium the other day who said that he thought De Ketelaere’s preference would be to go to Italy.

“But speaking to our guys who know the Italian market, they don’t know what’s going on at Milan right now.”

Strong Leeds push can see Charles De Ketelaere deal done

Leeds might not be able to offer the Champions League, but they can offer two things Milan can’t. Indeed, the Premier League is seen as a far stronger product on a week-to-week basis than Serie A right now. In fact, most of the game’s top stars opt to head to England.

Furthermore, Leeds United can also offer De Ketelaere a far more regular role in their attack. Competition is obviously tough at Milan, moreso, given their recent signing of Divock Origi.

Playing week in, week-out at Leeds could see De Ketelaere become stronger, better and progress his game much faster. As such – and as displayed by Raphinha – the player may see a move to Elland Road as a springboard for something bigger and better down the line.

That’s no bad thing for Leeds. It helps the club progress in terms of both stature, Premier League placing and finances. And if players of De Ketelaere’s quality help them achieve their goals, perhaps a long-term stay is not impossible.

Leeds, though, will need to act fast to get a deal done. Reports recently claimed the Whites opened the bidding with a £25.8m offer, with Club Brugges’ asking price also revealed.