Club Brugge director Vincent Mannaert has lifted the lid on the negotiations that eventually saw Charles De Ketelaere join AC Milan.
It was a happy end to a situation that dragged on for weeks in the end. Milan and Leeds United were the two teams locked in the transfer battle at the start but it became clear the playmaker only wanted to join Milan, and after long negotiations things eventually got done.
De Ketelaere’s representatives Tom De Mul and Yama Sharifi revealed some of the intricacies of the saga in an interview with HLN recently, revealing how many clubs wanted their client and why things became so difficult.
Now, Brugge co-owner and director Victor Mannaert has given an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport during which he talked through the stages of the deal that saw De Ketelaere move to Milan this summer, with his comments relayed by PianetaMilan.
On the negotiation from Club Brugge’s point of view: “A normal negotiation, but a very long one. To all of us it seemed like a soap opera. I sold Loïs Openda in 72 hours, for De Ketelaere the days were never enough.”
On being afraid that everything could blow up: “Never. There was a lot of stress but Milan came to Bruges to meet us… and you don’t do it if you are not really interested.”
On how Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara are at the negotiating table: “I had known Massara from the days of Roma, Maldini was a discovery. They were professional, in a context of great respect. Probably in the delicate moment they put more pressure on the agents, threatening to blow up the deal.”
On De Ketelaere’s move: “For me he is a very strong player, he can become a top player in a top team.”
On what he has to do to become a top player: “He has to put on a few pounds of muscle, that is the main challenge. He has an advantage: a great ability to adapt quickly. If the coach explains something to him, he immediately brings it onto the pitch.”
On the pressure of the San Siro: “Charles knows what to expect and in the games with more pressure he has always done well. At his debut in the Champions League, against PSG, he seemed to have been there for two years.”