AC Milan have been urged to remain patient with Charles De Ketelaere by his former coach Carl Hoefkens, who believes he will showcase his ability with time.
De Ketelaere was Milan’s marquee €35m signing during the post-Scudetto summer transfer window last year but never really delivered what was expected of him, scoring zero goals and amassing one assists.
It’s tough to call what the future holds for the Belgian at the moment, but if you think you know which way next season is going then check out the best UK football betting sites.
MilanNews spoke to Hoefkens who is the current head coach of Standard Liège and the man who coached Charles De Ketelaere at Brugge during the summer before he moved to Milan.
Carl, just twelve months ago Charles De Ketelaere was supposed to rock the world and he was the talent that all of Belgium spoke highly of. However, after a dark season we can say that the operation was a failure. How can it be explained?
“In my opinion, you can’t talk about failure. Some players just need time to adapt and for Charles as well as for many others the same is true.
“I’ve known him since he was 13-14 and he’s a player with incredible talent. Milan just need to give him time to settle in, the boy needs it. If he does, we’ll see Charles De Ketelaere’s true potential.
“Unfortunately, however, many teams don’t have the patience to wait and want everything immediately. Let’s not forget that it was a very expensive transfer, the pressure is great.”
Could things improve next year? If he were to stay of course…
“If Milan have the courage to wait for him, the results will be seen.”
In your opinion, have the comparisons with Ricardo Kakà done him more harm than good after his arrival at Milan?
“I don’t know about that, but the pressure has only increased! It’s never easy for young players to move abroad and adapt to a new country, a new language, a new group and live up to expectations.
“I repeat, managing all this is not easy and for Charles it was the first time he has faced all this. In Bruges he knew the whole environment because he grew up in the youth team and it was his club.
“Changing environment is difficult but you just have to give him the time to emerge because he has the qualities, there’s no doubt about that.”
His technical qualities have never been questioned. The real question almost all fans ask is whether he is mentally strong enough?
De Ketelaere was put on the market by Milan. PSV Eindhoven are interested in him but the player would like to stay and silence the critics. Stay or go, what advice would you give him?
“He has to do what he thinks is right but I hope he can stay in Milan and prove everyone they’re wrong about him. Give him time, let him grow. Once he unlocks in the scoring phase and makes his first assist, you’ll see a player incredible.”
Is he the best player you have coached?
“Not only that, he’s one of the strongest players I’ve seen, including everyone I’ve played with in the last 20-30 years.”