Written By Onyeka Daniel
It’s been a struggle for Belgian winger, Charles De Ketelaere since making the move from the Belgian League to the Italian Serie A after he was signed by AC Milan from Club Brugge, struggling with the Rossoneri in his first season at the club.
But he seems to be finding his feet since making the switch to Atalanta earlier this summer. He is like a completely different player from the one seen during his debut Italian season at Milan, where he was sluggish and visibly lacking in confidence.
He scored on his debut for La Dea in Serie A and found the net too in the 2-0 Europa League win over Champions of Poland Rakow. Speaking in his post match interview, the Belgian feels both he and Atalanta could’ve scored many more against Rakow in the Europa League and relishes his tactical versatility. ‘I want to keep doing more.’
“I am happy, because the team played well throughout, it is an important goal and I am pleased. We could’ve scored more, I could’ve scored more, as twice it was cleared off the line,” De Ketelaere told Sky Sport. “I feel good, we created many scoring opportunities and it could’ve been more than 2-0, but these are three important points to start the Europa League.”
He never quite found his role at Milan under Stefano Pioli, but is enjoying his versatility when working with Gian Piero Gasperini. That was proved this evening when he was in a trident attack in the first half, then became a striker in place of Luis Muriel, as Gianluca Scamacca and El Bilal Toure are injured.
“I want to keep doing more. I started out playing on the right, then moved to centre-forward in the second half. I can play on the right, left or central, so can Lookman, so we combine well.” There is also another difference from last season, as De Ketelaere is now able to speak Italian and give interviews in the language.
Atalanta manager also praised the player for a great start to his Atalanta career, noting he can play as a centre-forward and explaining some of his Milan problems. ‘I heard he was sluggish and indolent.’ There were plenty of scoring opportunities and a goal-line clearance.
But the result was decided by headers from Charles De Ketelaere and Ederson. It was put to the coach that De Ketelaere could be revitalised in much the same way that he did with Josip Ilicic. “De Ketelaere has some very similar characteristics to Josip, but he is still young and has great margin for improvement,” Gasperini told Sky Sport Italia.
“I am happy with his character and work-rate too. I heard people say he was a bit sluggish and indolent, but the truth I feel is that he has this muscular structure that means he needs to play regularly to get into shape. Sometimes the body language can make it look like laziness, whereas it’s just trying to find that rhythm.”
Considering De Ketelaere never had a regular run in the Milan starting XI, that could partially explain his difficulties. With Gianluca Scamacca out for a month with a muscular injury and El Bilal Toure probably not ready until 2024, having De Ketelaere as a centre-forward option could be valuable.
“He has good feet, solid foundations, he played as a centre-forward in the second half and is versatile. In an emergency situation, he can also be a centre-forward, even if it’s not quite his role, but it could become it. “Obviously, it would be a very different potential with Scamacca and Toure.
At one stage tonight, we used Mario Pasalic upfront. Losing two players like that leaves us rather short-staffed in attack.” It was noted that Davide Zappacosta and Matteo Ruggeri remain the most reliable wing-backs, despite signing new players for those positions over the summer.
“At this moment, we are trying to get Emil Holm back into shape after he was out at Spezia for many months. Hans Hateboer is returning from a cruciate ligament injury. Mitchel Bakker has more than a few problems settling in to the new team.” Atalanta received a booster after the 3-2 Serie A defeat to Fiorentina at the weekend, though Gasperini is still far from satisfied.
“This is a squad that cares and works hard, it has a soul. We lacked quality in the first half, but must also consider that it is never easy in Europe. We need to improve the quality level, as against tougher opponents that is what we will require to break through.” He further added.
Sassuolo director Giovanni Carnevali insists there were never advanced talks with Juventus for Domenico Berardi, but would ‘not rule out’ a departure in January. Berardi spent much of the summer pushing for the transfer to the Turin giants, after negotiations were cut off by his club when the deadline of mid-August passed.
However, Carnevali maintains the matter was never as intense as reported in the newspapers. “I admit there was contact with Juventus after Berardi expressed his firm intention to join the Bianconeri,” Carnevali said in an interview. “They wanted the player in Turin, but there was never a real negotiation.
“We had only set a deadline, August 17, to close the agreement in time to find a replacement. “At that moment, perhaps Juve had different problems to deal with and it ended with no progress.” Despite the tension between the clubs and Juventus seemingly annoyed at the refusal of Sassuolo to discuss it any further, Carnevali leaves the door open for them to resume this conversation in January.
“We would never exclude anything, some even more important proposals might come in. I cannot say what will happen, but it is obvious that Sassuolo do not need to sell. “Juventus are a great side who did not change much, they have quality players and I consider them along with Inter the favourites for the Scudetto.” If Berardi is to leave Sassuolo in January, it is likely to be a loan deal with obligation to buy for circa €25-30m including bonuses. Carnevali does reveal another reason for the tension between Juventus and Sassuolo, which is to be found behind the scenes. “I am disappointed that Francesco Magnanelli, who was our historic captain for many years and spent last season in Alessio Dionisi’s staff, decided to go to Juventus for Max Allegri’s team.”
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