Leeds offer Euro giants immediate relief over transfer flop as shock loan approach is made
Leeds United have been in contact with AC Milan asking to be kept informed over Charles De Ketelaere, sources have told TEAMtalk.
The Whites pushed hard to sign the Belgian over the summer when it became clear Club Brugges were willing to sell. Indeed, they offered what would have amounted to a club-record proposal to bring the talented 21-year-old attacker to Elland Road.
However, his focus was always on signing for Milan, with technical director Paolo Maldini leading their quest to sign him.
After much negotiating, Milan ultimately sealed his signing with De Ketelaere signing a deal at the San Siro until summer 2027.
That left Leeds looking elsewhere and they were subsequently linked with a number of other potential options. Ultimately, they decided to bring in young Italy forward Wilfried Gnonto, with his deal initially slotted to go through in January.
However, De Ketelaere has struggled to have an impact at AC Milan. The forward has managed just one assist so far and is yet to score in 18 appearances across all competitions.
Now sources have told TEAMtalk that Leeds remain on his trail. And we can reveal the Whites have asked to be kept informed by Milan over their intentions for the forward.
Leeds director of football Victor Orta and first-team coach Jesse Marsch still like De Ketelaere a lot. And if there was any indication that he could be allowed to depart – even if just on a loan deal – then Leeds would be interested.
However, their initial enquiries for the £27.7m (€32m) Milan signing have been batted off.
Milan dismiss Leeds prosposals for De Ketelaere
We understand Milan are currently happy to bide their time with De Ketelaere. Indeed, there is an understanding at Milan that, as a young man in a new country and a new league, it would always take time to adapt.
To that end, they are happy to bide their time with De Ketelaere and continue to give him opportunities to impress.
Furthermore, with Milan still chasing glory in both Serie A and the Champions League, coach Stefano Pioli is not keen to reduce his options.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not played a single minute this season after undergoing knee surgery earlier this year.
The 41-year-old is scheduled to return some time in the new year. However, Milan will operate a cautious approach over his comeback.
Milan face a Champions League last-16 clash against Tottenham and will be determined not to weaken their attacking options further. And with interest mounting in Rafael Leao – most notably from Chelsea – it seems unlikely De Ketelaere will depart.
However, there may be one factor in Leeds’ favour with Milan closing on an attacking addition of their own. Indeed, sources have confirmed to TEAMtalk that Hakim Ziyech is closing on a loan switch to the San Siro. And the deal for the Moroccan will contain an option to make the move permanent.
Maldini makes intentions clear
Maldini has also made his intentions clear regarding De Ketelaere, insisting they are in it for the long haul with their star.
“He is suffering, it is a different environment with different pressures,” he said, as reported by Sempre Milan. “He has more knowledge than before. We signed a five-year contract with Charles not five months, we are waiting for him, just as we are waiting for [Divock] Origi. They have everything to be decisive. We have had many examples of players who took a while to understand what is needed to play at Milan,”
As such, the signs do point towards De Ketelaere staying for this season at least.
The reigning Serie A champions, however, face a tough battle to retain their title. They currently sit second in the table but are a distant eight points off this season’s dominant force, Napoli.
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