GdS: ‘Charles’ battle’ – De Ketelaere looking to overturn familiar trend

By Oliver Fisher -

Charles De Ketelaere moved to Atalanta in the summer in a bid to reignite the spark that attracted AC Milan in the first place, but his time there has followed a similar trend.

La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) talks about De Ketelaere’s rollercoaster, starting with two goals and two assists in six games with Atalanta across Serie A and the Europa League, but then two and a half months without anything.

The paper writes that it was a ‘painful’ choice for him to leave Milan after such a difficult season and join Atalanta, with whom a €3m loan deal with a €22m option to buy plus €4m in bonuses and a resale clause was agreed.

In September it seemed that La Dea had already won their gamble, and head coach Gian Piero Gasperini is doing everything possible to get the Belgian out of a slump to protect him from those ready to tarnish him with the narrative of sinking into a hole again.

Even on Monday in Atalanta’s defeat to Torino, after seeing De Ketelaere floundering like the others, he found positive aspects in his performance: “Charles now has a deficit in strength, but tonight he also did good things, it was a good reference. He needs to grow, but you can count on him.”

Gasperini believes that the 22-year-old has obvious technical qualities which muscle strengthening work can help make more concrete. He sees him as a forward who must stay as close to the opposition goal as possible, and with support from others.

Some physical problems have occurred though. He had knee problems at the beginning of November, then an abdominal injury that made him miss the match against Sporting CP and play the match against Torino only after a hasty recovery.

Gianluca Scamacca’s injury gave CDK some difficulties too because he was asked to play as an ‘atypical centre-forward’ and not a false nine type who holds the ball up to bring others into the game, given hold-up play is not his strength.

Tomorrow, his parent club come to town. Whether he starts or comes off the bench he will face an unusual centre-back pairing in Tomori-Theo Hernandez. He knows them well, just as they know him.


Tags AC Milan Charles De Ketelaere


  1. “hold-up play is not his strength” and scoring definitely isn’t his strength… just what is his strength? Hopefully he finds it in time to convince Atalanta to keep him.

    1. I think Gasperini is right.

      The most likely path to becoming a quality player is as a striker. CDK has shown he knows his way around the penalty box in that season with Brugge.

      He’s reasonably strong technically, he’s big and quick enough to be a handful. But he’s going to take time to grow physically and also as a player.

      I wouldn’t be spending the money but I haven’t developed as many quality as Gasperini has.

  2. He is a forward in a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2. A #10 next to the #9.
    His playmaking style does not translate outside of the mighty Jupiter League.

  3. CDK needs a smaller club than Milan where he can grow with a good manager that can develop some of his strengths and his mind.
    Also, he definitely needs more strenght and muscle.

    There is talent there but to take some steps forward he needs playing time and not waste time now at such a young age. These are some important years for him. If he can stay out of injuries he will be very good.

    For Milan it might not be early enough. And the way we play is not going to develop him so Gasperini is his best choice right.

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