Leeds United have been handed a huge boost in their bid to bring Charles De Ketelaere to Elland Road this summer.
That’s according to a report by Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport (via Sport Witness), who now claim that, despite it being previously reported that AC Milan were the clear favourites in the race for the Club Brugge KV forward, the Serie A side now look unable to be able to meet the Belgian side’s €35m (£30m) asking price for the 21-year-old.
This is sure to come as a huge boost to Victor Orta and his Leeds transfer team, as the Spaniard has already submitted a €37m (£31.5m) bid for the Belgium international, with a conclusion to the attacker’s transfer saga looking likely to be finalised in the coming days.
Furthermore, TEAMtalk editor James Marshment also relayed a report from HLN on Twitter, in which the journalist revealed that Milan are ready to give up their pursuit of De Ketelaere, while Leeds are very much still in the hunt for the eight-cap international’s signature.
In his tweet, Marshment said: “HLN in Belgium reporting that Milan are ready to call time on Charles De Ketelaere bid. Brugge have dropped their price to €35m but price remains too steep for Milan to reach. Leeds seemingly very much still in the hunt.”
He added of De Ketelaere: “Still a way to go before he could become a Leeds player, but this is why the Leeds bid has remained on the table. He’s a big talent and one certainly worth waiting for.”
Considering just how exciting a prospect De Ketelaere undoubtedly is, in addition to it previously looking as if Milan were certain to land the 21-year-old this summer, the news that Leeds now appear to be closing in on a deal for the forward is sure to have left both Orta and the Elland Road faithful buzzing.
Indeed, based solely on his six appearances in the Champions League last season, FBref rank the £27m-rated attacker in the top 3% of forwards in Europe’s big five leagues and European competitions for xA per 90, in addition to the top 4% for progressive passes, the top 16% for passes attempted and the top 19% for shot-creating actions over the last 365 days.
The £17k-per-week talent also impressed in a defensive capacity, with the 21-year-old also ranking in the top 5% for pressures and the top 9% for tackles per 90 over the past 12 months – a quite remarkable feat considering Brugge were up against Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig in Group A.
The player who Marshment claimed would be an “elite signing” also stole the show over his 39 Jupiler Pro League appearances in 2021/22, bagging 14 goals, registering nine assists and creating 16 big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 2.0 shots, making 1.8 key passes and completing 1.4 dribbles per fixture.
These returns saw the incredibly versatile centre-forward average a quite astonishing SofaScore match rating of 7.25, not only ranking him as Burgge’s fourth-best performer in the league but also as the 13th-best player in the Belgian top flight as a whole.
As such, it would very much appear as if Leeds’ persistence over a deal for De Ketelaere could be about to pay off in a very big way, as the youngster is quite clearly one of the most exciting attacking talents in European football at present – not to mention being a signing who would undoubtedly help take the Whites to the next level in 2022/23.