AC Milan director Paolo Maldini did not have Charles De Ketelaere as his number one choice for the attacking midfielder role.
Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara had a very limited budget at their disposal during the summer transfer window. Despite some minor operations, the Rossoneri decided to invest the vast majority of their budged on Belgian gem Charles De Ketelaere. His transfer cost €32 million with the potential to rise up to €35 million.
A number of targets were linked to AC Milan before the Italian champions decided to purchase the Club Brugge talent. Apparently De Ketelaere was not Paolo Maldini’s number one choice. According to a new report, the AC Milan technical director would have liked to close for Nicolo Zaniolo.
“Charles De Ketelaere was strongly wanted by Frederic Massara. Instead, Maldini would have closed for Zaniolo“, said journalist Enrico Camelio. However, the signing of the Italian talent from Roma was not an easy feat despite the parties having held talks during the summer.
Roma insisted on their €60 million price tag for Zaniolo, although they were open to receive that figure through bonuses. Zaniolo had a positive season scoring 8 goals and providing 9 assists. He also decided the Conference League final in favor of Roma. Nevertheless, the high asking price and Zaniolo’s known physical problems pushed AC Milan towards De Ketelaere.
The 21-year-old has had a difficult start to life in Italy. Charles has yet to find the back of the net, providing only one assist in 23 appearances with the Red and Blacks. Despite everything, Milan are confident that De Ketelaere will slowly find his feet. As Maldini publicly said: “We have signed De Ketelaere on a five-year contract and not five months“.
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