Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Leeds United torpedo AC Milan plans with swoop on the way for classy Raphinha replacement

Charles De Ketelaere pictured during a press conference of the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), Monday 21 March 2022in Tubize, during the preparations for the friendly games against and in Ireland (26/03) and against Burkina Faso

Leeds are preparing to hijack an AC Milan move for Charles De Ketelaere after the classy Belgian was confirmed as a suitable Raphinha replacement, per reports.

Raphinha has become one of the most sought after attackers in the current window. Barcelona were believed to be his likeliest destination, though a move within the Premier League is now dominating the headlines.

Indeed, Arsenal have already seen a bid rebuffed, while Tottenham have reportedly abandoned their Gabriel Jesus pursuit in order to focus on deals for Raphinha and Richarlison.

Leeds have slapped a £65m price tag on their talisman in the hopes of dissuading the suitors. But even at that price, Raphinha is still likely to have his admirers.

Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano recently listed both PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo and Club Brugge’s Charles De Ketelaere on Leeds’ shortlist of potential replacements.

The latest on Gakpo can be found here, but it is the latter who is now coming into focus.

Romano confirmed the Belgian forward, 21, was a long-time target for AC Milan. However, Italian outlet TuttoMercatoWeb have reported Leeds are ready to torpedo their plans.

Their exact wording read: ‘Leeds swoops to mess up AC Milan’s plans’ regarding De Ketelaere.

Details beyond that statement were thin on the ground, though it certainly gives the sense a move is coming, or at the very least under serious consideration.

De Ketelaere a serious coup

The 6ft 3in Belgian would not be a direct replacement for Raphinha in a positional sense. However, the class and creativity he would bring would ensure Jesse Marsch’s forward line is not lacking.

The 21-year-old has been deployed on the wings on occasion, though is at his best in central positions either up front or playing off the striker.

He bagged 14 goals and seven assists in the Belgian top flight for Brugge last term.

Those efforts helped him become a regular in the Belgian national set-up with four senior appearances made in 2022. His maiden goal for Belgium came against European Champions Italy in a Nations League clash in October.

De Ketelaere has also been on the radar of another English side for some time – Leicester City.

The fact clubs the calibre of Milan and Leicester have bee sizing up the Belgian speaks volumes to the player he already is.

The only downside from a Leeds perspective stems from the fact he will likely only be signed if Raphinha makes way first.