Charles De Ketelaere’s time at AC Milan has not gone to plan so far as he is yet to get off the mark with a goal and is seemingly no longer the starting playmaker.
There are a multitude of reasons for his struggles up to this point which we did a deep-dive into yesterday, but given that there are 15 crucial league games left there is no time to reflect on the past and instead potential solutions must be the centre of focus.
One of the ways that Pioli could utilise that skill set that De Ketelaere has is to play him as a false nine, but playing with any player in that role would require Milan to have a strong forward line to counter-balance the absence of a typical area-filling centre-forward.
The next step is to think about how this might work in practice and how the attack might be formed around the Belgian if he were in that false nine role.
A good case study is Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine sides. He used Roman Yaremchuk as a left winger – despite the fact he is very much a typical No.9 – while Marlos acted down the middle as a false nine.
This was also a ploy used early in Mikel Arteta’s tenure at Arsenal to accommodate both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Lacazette would drop in between the lines and Aubameyang would cut inside to get on to the end of passes/crosses.
Milan could in theory continue with a 3-4-2-1/3-4-3 system and line-up with Rafael Leao on the left, De Ketelaere as a false nine and Divock Origi as a right winger. Origi – the natural centre-forward – can make those runs while CDK drops between the lines dragging his marker, or even causing a numerical advantage in midfield.
De Ketelaere is not in his element either as a centre-forward or as a traditional playmaker in the No.10 role. At Club Brugge he was more of a player who enjoyed being in the spaces, peeling away from the middle towards the wings, pulling defenders away with him for Vanakken or Lang to make runs.
Meanwhile, Origi isn’t a traditional hold-up striker like Olivier Giroud has shown he can be. Instead the Belgian likes to make runs, out-pace defenders and has the ability to create as well.
If Milan can keep the shape and the team looking the way it is now, Pierre Kalulu can play as the right-sided centre-back and Alexis Saelemaekers could be a more defensive right wing-back, and then it would not leave them exposed to counter-attacks.
De Ketelaere dropping between the lines would also help Milan to create a numerical advantage in the event that the opposition play a five-man midfield in a 3-5-2, making it a 1v1 battle which Pioli likes.
There are some potential obstacles for this approach. For example, if the opposing centre-back is physical – like we saw with Lecce’s Federico Baschirotto – then he could easily bully a player like De Ketelaere, and with his confidence not the highest it could take a further hit.
An opposing coach could also easily isolate Saelemaekers by asking his left mezzala (box-to-box midfielder) to join their wing-back in a 3-5-2 system, and thus have a 2v1 situation in build-up play. Of course, there are multiple permutations that can happen in a game.
Brahim Diaz’s work rate means that he could easily drop into midfield when Theo Hernandez pushes forward to attack meaning Milan’s midfield is not stretched. This however cannot be said for De Ketelaere’s work rate, as he is not a mezzala type player.
There is no doubt that Stefano Pioli spends a fair bit of his training sessions, his time watching video analysis and his discussions with the coaching staff thinking about how to unlock the €35m man, but as of yet there does not seem to have been a permanent solution found.
As mentioned in yesterday’s piece, the numbers suggest De Ketelaere has gone from a pass-first playmaker type before the World Cup to a player hanging around the danger areas just desperately looking for that first goal.
If that goal comes late on and is a tap-in it will have a positive effect on confidence yet it might not mean anything in terms of a long-term fix. It is important that CDK finds his proper role in this team organically.
Orang awam aja tahu kalo cdk adalah false nine … Cuma Pioli yang maksa jadi playmaker
Yes, lets build the whole team around a struggling kid who so far has shown nothing but poor play and poor attitude. We’ll change out style to make it easier for him. How about just saying we made a bad move signing him, sell him and move on.
You are being over-critical on De ketelaere. The football he played is very Ajax school of football,quick passing and continuous opening of space but now he finds himself in a team who run with the ball at their feet more and more rather then play fast, intricate passing game.(think Leao, Theo & Diaz).. He is adapting and has not had enough time on the pitch either . So let’s give him time to adapt and the team must evolve as well . Don’t forget Odegaard, David’s, Patrick Viera , Henry , Bergkamp all were passed on as flops early and they all turned out to be outstanding players.
The level of passes Milan players deliver is just appalling. No wonder CDK is suffering as his teammates can’t even get the ball to his feet.
And he’s not the only one struggling.
Well, De Ketelaere will get more minutes if Milan make points advantage to reach Champions League spot . Milan is very vulnerable with roster this year, and Pioli must take the biggest amount of points. He can’t think about struggling players or beauty of the game. Charles will have some minutes because Diaz can’t play every game and now everything depends on Charles, no matter what position is going to be
Bad idea. Just start him as a playmaker. Leao and Origi are not the wingers for a false nine.
He is good enough in our new system,he isn’t any worse than diaz,he just need more minutes,he can’t do much playing 10 minutes per match
That’s ridiculous…. as ‘K’ said, why change everything to work around an unproven kid.. just because he cost 35m?? So far he looks like a complete bust. Now he may come good with time and I hope he does but I worry given he doesn’t look very athletic. He runs strange, he’s not very fast or agile, and he’s not very strong. He does have a good eye for the game and good technique but unfortunately that’s just not enough. Maybe he’ll come good next year but I don’t think that false 9 will do him or Milan any good. If anything we should be running a 3 man mid and play him as the 3rd mid so he has some support next to him since he needs it right now. Playing as the lone #10 is too much for him right now. Maybe in the future but he’s not ready yet. And if he seems like he just won’t get there then we can sell and reinvest.
In the end, I hope we don’t change anything just to try and “unlock” a kid who might just not be that good…
He is a CAM with free role. Yes, he’s good with the ball at his feet. He can make the first turn right and start a counter attack, but his creativity is not that high which is the main attribute for a playmaker, and he doesn’t seem comfortable with opponent marking him like a playmaker should be. That’s why he can be the main playmaker for the team.
In 4231, milan need 2 pivot CM, with one of them responsible solely in defense, and the other as the main playmaker for the team, so CDK can roam and gets into the box or puts himself into shooting position.
Get someone like Kessie as DM to pairs with Bennacer as deep lying playmaker.
Problem is, playing CDK like that we will need goal scoring wingers. All his space will be created for nothing
Salad, Messias, Florenzi, Calabria all are strong players, but not goal scorers. Next season with right alteration we will have a very strong team.
And midfield, we need 1 guy that can replace bennacer if he is out. We might need kessie back
That’s exactly what a smart tactician would do. But pioli? He’s just a joker
Its hard for a creative player like cdk to flourish in piolis system. The problem is the type of football we play under pioli, lack of buildup play, lack of coordination and anticipation between players are a major hurdle for such creative minded players. We have seen cdk expects players to pass him the ball when he got time and space, but our players takes too much time on the ball rather than passing it at the appropriate time. Also other players are unable to anticipate his movements. At the end we endup losing the ball at critical areas. Individual brilliant is what Pioli encourages, not playing as a team not attractive football, just high pressing, intensity and dirty football. Cdk is not suitable for that. His elegance is ideal for teams like napoli or inter.
Its hard for a creative player like cdk to flourish in piolis system. The problem the type of football we play under pioli, lack of buildup play, lack of coordination and anticipation between players are a major hurdle for such players. We have seen cdk expects players to pass him the ball when he got time and space, but our players takes too much time on the ball rather than passing it at the appropriate time. At the end we endup losing the ball at critical areas. Individual brilliant is what Pioli encourages, not playing as a team not attractive football, just high pressing, intensity and dirty football. Cdk is not suitable for that. His elegance is made for teams like napoli or inter.
Shifting him around the pitch won’t do any good its just forcing. Paqueta scenario all over again. Give him time, this season is already bust and we need prepared players to grab points for CL spot. Prepare him for next season and hopefully he’ll turn out to be Leao/Tonali esque signing.
I’m tired of reading articles (and ratings) that always seek to find excuses for CDK’s poor form. Last game he was invisible, again, and honestly he looked like he doesn’t even put the effort anymore. His runs are slow and short, and the (yet another) miss on goal from 2 meters showed unexcusable hesitation and weakness for a player with his price tag. But sure, keep writing articles and ratings that pamper him, while at the same time throwing stones (and curse words – see the ratings on the game against Lazio) at Tata for every small mistake while having to cover for a lacking defense for a full month. One is always excused, the other is quickly blamed. This is true for other players as well, but honestly, the way these two are treated here shows such an incredible bias. True fans support and hold their players accountable by the same standard!
You should take a look at the latest ratings, Tata praised in all of them.
I read the ratings every time and I agree. But my point is how some players seem to be treated differently when they don’t do well compared to others. My opinion is that there has been a lot of criticism and too little support for Tata in all the time he subbed for Maignan (which was not an easy task to begin with) while for CDK it feels to be the other way around, there are always excuses. They both have their own shortcomings – however one is a second choice goalkeeper of 37 years old, while the other is a 30 mil eur player. So far only Tata’s ratings contains a curse word (as far as I know), and for something that was not even fully his mistake – that to me, as a Milan fan, is not ok in a professional rating. Anyways, I just wish there would be a more balanced approach to our players, since they are all Milan. Sempre Milan!
It’s not like Giroud is on fire, that we’re scoring a lot of goals at the moment, or that we are flush with attacking options.
There are 2 assest, CDK and Origi (4 years at $4m), in which Milan has invested heavily. It is encumbent on Pioli to find solutions to make the team better based on what he has at his disposal. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of madness, at least according to smarter people than me.
How could it possibly be a bad thing to unlock the ability in one or both or these players?
It doesn’t get us closer to an answer on an AM, certainly not initially. But a change of scenery might be what CDK needs to bring the rest of his game out.
I am concerned by the sentiments in the last paragraph, too. The simplest explanations are usually the best ones. I doubt CDK will be a bust because he doesn’t have the talent, he’s show in CL that he has objectively verifiable talent. However, it seems likely to me that he could be a bust because he’s not what we thought he was. He’s played well as a false 9. That may well be the sort of player he is. It may be that he grows into a pure number 9. He’s a big kid, there is no way he is fully developed.
I suspect he will evolve into a tactically versatile striker. Whether that is what we want from the position is the question.
i told you hundret times that origi will be a flop, feeded by the super winger from LCF which we dont have, CDK is young and huge investment there isnt a way to let him become a real flop, so let him play every game until he scores in thre games a row, then he will start developing, and last but not least, what is milan management expecting by a profile from jupiler league? there would have many better profiles from red bull salzburg(15-20 mio)