Leeds United have reportedly learned very quickly whether their club-record transfer approach for Charles De Ketelaere is a successful one or not.
The Whites are honing in on the talented 21-year-old Belgian as they look to add more goals to their side. Indeed, in the absence of Patrick Bamford last season, Leeds did not have a focal point up front – and almost paid the ultimate price. With money in their pocket now to redress that, De Ketelaere has quickly emerged as their No 1 target.
It’s not hard to see why the Belgian – described as the heir to Kevin De Bruyne – is a man in demand. He scored 10 goals and assisted in eight others from 49 appearances last season, bringing him to the attention of several top sides.
Indeed, Leicester City have been on his trail for the best part of a year. However, it has since emerged that Serie A champions AC Milan are also keen on De Ketelaere.
The Rossoneri’s offer for De Ketelaere is for an initial £17.2m (€20m). But that has been blown out the water by Leeds, who are offering a downpayment of £25.7m (€25m), with add-ons taking the deal to a whopping £30m (€35m). That deal would represent a club-record move for Leeds, surpassing the £26.7m paid to Valencia for Rodrigo Moreno.
Leeds hopes fade for Charles De Ketelaere
From a business point of view, Brugges would, understandably, prefer to sell to Leeds. Indeed, with bonuses, their approach is almost double what Milan are currently putting on the table.
However, as per trusted source Belgian paper HLN, De Ketelaere has made it clear he has no interest in Leeds.
He has seemingly made clear to Brugges and his agent that his priority remains on signing for Milan. De Ketelaere has also already held talks with coach Stefano Pioli and technical director Paulo Maldini about his role in their side.
And they have made it clear that they see De Ketelaere as a striker and playing a lead role in their side next season.
With that in mind, it would appear that Leeds are out of the race.
However, Terreur is keen to stress that that is not the end of matters. Admitting it is still early days in the transfer, he says the onus is now on Milan to match the Leeds offer. Should they not, there remains a chance he could still move to West Yorkshire.
Belgian record transfer offer
Leeds’ offer also represents a club-record transfer in the history of Belgium football. For that reason, Brugges are willing to accept the sale of De Ketelaere to Jesse Marsch’s team.
And that in itself will give Milan a problem. And if Brugges are adamant they will have to match the Leeds offer, Milan may yet withdraw from the race.
Leeds could also sell the move to the player by telling him to see his time in West Yorkshire as a stepping stone for bigger and better. Unable to currently offer Champions League football, that was a tool by which they lured Raphinha to Leeds United in 2020. And look at the Brazilian now!
Leeds in battle for Charles De Ketelaere
Leeds are in a battle with AC Milan for Belgian youngster Charles De Ketelaere.
The same move would offer Charles De Ketelaere the chance to play regular football in the Premier League. As a competition, it is significantly stronger than Serie A.
Whether that will yet change the player’s mind, though, remains to be seen.