MN: Treatment of De Ketelaere symbolic of a summer window with more questions than answers

By Oliver Fisher -

Yesterday’s derby defeat against Inter was another game in which Charles De Ketelaere not only didn’t start, but didn’t play a single minute off the bench either.

MilanNews dive into De Ketelaere’s situation and how he is perhaps the symbol of a summer transfer window that is drawing more and more scrutiny from fans who are not happy with the lack of contribution from new signings.

In the post-Scudetto summer, Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara lost a month due to the tug of war over the renewal of their contract, and having acquired greater power in transfer decisions the first big turning point was that Sven Botman – a major target – decided to move to Newcastle United.

The Rossoneri failed to compete with the economic offer put forward by a club with embarrassing riches, but instead of looking for a similar centre-back that was around the amount they were willing to spend for Botman, the De Ketelaere saga began.

The Belgian had been watched for a long time and identified as the ideal profile to give quality and talent to the attacking department. Negotiations lasted about three weeks, but in the end he joined for a fee of €32m plus €3m in bonuses.

To complete the attack the decision was made to sign Divock Origi on a free and then Junior Messias on a permanent basis, while in midfield both Renato Sanches and Enzo Fernandez went elsewhere so Aster Vranckx came on loan from Wolfsburg. The market closed with Malick Thiaw joining on a permanent deal and Sergino Dest on loan due to Alessandro Florenzi’s injury.

Back to De Ketelaere, the numbers are not encouraging. In Serie A he as played 36% of the minutes available, with 29% of games being as a starter, resulting in 17 total appearances for 683 minutes.

Aster Vrankcx, played only 5% of the minutes available with no starts. Thiaw has 7 total appearances for 70 minutes, only 9% of minutes played of those available with 11% of games as a starter. Sergino Dest has played 21% of the available playing time, 12% of the games as a starter with 8 total appearances totalling 324 minutes. Yacine Adli was used for only 6% of total minutes, 5% of games as a starter, with 4 appearances totalling 114 minutes.

In a moment of crisis like this, Pioli decided to use Junior Messias as a mezzala in a 3-5-2 in a huge game such as the derby, rather than to trust those who have not had any chance until now to show what they can do.

With so much time and money invested to sign a player like De Ketelaere, the decision not to trust him even a little seems more and more perplexing.

Tags AC Milan Charles De Ketelaere


  1. Mesias was a poor choise in that position and is valid question why Pioli was thinking that Mesias is better choise than CDK. And how he was thinking to play on counter attacks with Mesias, Giroud and Origi.

    1. Agreed especially as CDK has actually shown a willingness to defend and has this habit of launching counters when he wins the ball back.

  2. I just dont get why Pioli can’t hit the restart button.

    Go on an off-site retreat. Build the team, bonding time etc.

    They set a new formation and tactic that better suits the team and stop saying that players cant do this and cant do that (ex. Leao doesnt so well with two strikers).

    And trust some of the new players – give them a shoot. Misha gave Donnarumma his shoot – completely untested.

    My siggestion is:



    1. Oh yes this will obviously solve ALL OUR PROBLEMS.

      Guys come see quick….Rimp has the solution. Why didn’t we or Pioli think of this….mind blowing /s

    2. Agree with camp and restart

      My formation would be sth like this. completely new right side as right side is not working, if our right side can give some attacking pressure our still world class left side might get back on track

      Maignan (will be back soon, hopefully)
      Kalulu Tomori Kjaer Theo
      CDK Bennacer Tonali
      Brahim Giroud Leao

  3. or flip the midfield……



  4. As some of you may have gathered I’m not a fan of the transfer market.

    In fact I’d love to see it banned completely. There’s no more PSGs or Man City’s if you ban transfers altogether. No need for financial fair play and clever accounting. Just no transfers.

    No handballs. No transfers. No offside. Another rule of the SPORT that is football.

    One of the reasons I despise the transfer market is that it destroys players’ careers. I’ve not done much research but my guess is that the majority of transfers end in failure – as in the majority of new signings fail to perform at the same or higher level for their new clubs as they did for their old clubs.

    Some go from regulars to subs.

    Some play out of position.

    Some fail to build chemistry with their new manager or teammates.

    Some get distracted.

    Some get moved on before they’ve had a chance to settle in.

    Maybe I’m particularly triggered by the sheer number of players that Milan went through since we sold Ibra and Thiago Silva that summer of 2012. I could have accepted the team’s struggles more if we actually had a team. But instead we had this sort of out of control conveyor belt firing players off the end into the trash.

    Some players went on to bigger and better things. Some players were forever scarred. For every Paquetá there was a Piątek.

    During this period Milan castaway multiple youth players . We had Cristante so we signed….Essien. We had Locatelli so we signed…..Biglia and 14 others….we had Cutrone so we threw every striker we could at him, and then hilariously sold him to “balance the books”.

    These players all went on to have different levels of success. I still believe we’ll see Cutrone back one day doing a Simeone at Napoli.

    The most depressing part of all this has been the fans have gone along with the madness. Rather than demanding an end to this farce the fans have clamoured for more. Fans now have the attention of a goldfish with ADHD barely able to get from one transfer window to the next without demanding more and more signings.

    And the media has no incentive to scrutinise the sheer dodginess of the thousands and thousands of transfers each window as agents and parasites enrich themselves and brutal regimes engage in widespread sports washing.

    CDK is another victim of this machine that modern football has become. And we are all responsible for its demise.

    1. What!!!!?????
      If they ban transfers and you only have to rely on your academy products, then Milan will be playing in serie D because we have one of the worst youth systems. The majority of Milan legends and the greatest players are foreign players.

        1. Yes call people a troll for not jumping on bandwagons.

          How about you actually engage with the substance or, and this is entirely your choice, there’s no need to respond!

      1. Yes exactly.

        Teams would have to rely on their youth like most sports. That’s how rugby union works.

        And why exactly would a football mad country with 60m people struggle to produce players?

        After the collapse of the super league Agnelli said that young people don’t follow clubs any more they follow players. That’s what this out of control transfer market has done – destroyed the whole point of supporting a team. Because if a team is ever changing there’s never a connection.

  5. Can anyone in his right sense believe that Milan can ever win a match with Origi and Giroud as attackers??? With all due respect, then you must be dreaming! It is evident that the summer mercato was a complete flop!

  6. We can blame the players performances all year round however the one person responsible for the players performance is the coach, Pioli. I don’t read much criticism of the coach and surely he has a lot to answer for. I don’t believe he has much consideration of the new players and keeping them on the bench is not going to get much of them … right or wrong. This should be addressed by the club management.

    1. It is down the coach (as well as the disruption to the player and the squad caused by the transfer) but in fairness to Pioli he does have a record of gradually introducing players as was the case with Hernandez and Leao.

      The difference is at this stage the rest of the team is struggling so he doesn’t have the same luxury. We do need to turn this period around asap and Pioli needs to throw every resource at it including and especially the new signings from last summer.

  7. Quite happy to see the January t/w done away with.
    At the moment it’s just the EPL driving it, with Chelsea leading the way in trying to buy up the entire market. They’ll be next in the firing line for dodgy financial dealings…
    CDK should be played as a starter. It’s the only way to bring the player out in him… send Diaz back to Spain and Messias back to Serie B

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