De Ketelaere: “The chance to go to Milan was one to not let go, the last few weeks were quite intense and I’m happy I’m finally here, my preferred role…”

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Charles De Ketelaere talking to the press at Milanello on August 5, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Charles De Ketelaere was presented to the press today, answering many different questions.

De Ketelaere, 21 joined the Club this week from Club Brugge for €32m + €3m + 12.5% of a future resale and became Milan’s marquee summer signing, as they believe he can take the attack of the Rossoneri to the next level.

Today, CDK was presented to the press at Milanello and was asked questions by journalists:

Milan is warmth and passion when it comes to fans, but it’s very much intensive work here at Milanello. Have you perceived all this already in this next path of growth you are about to undertake here?
“Yes, actually I quite like. The fans are so passionate, football is for the fans so I like it. Working, the training style, the intensity – I always did it, I always did it to come here, so for me it will not be a change, it’s just on a higher level but I will have to try to keep up that level in training and in the intensity and I’m sure that it’ll be alright.”

We know how hard the period before joining Milan has been. But I’d like to hear from you how you experienced this waiting period, and have you also given up something personally in a way to join the Club?
“Last few weeks were quite intense and you hear all the stories, my agent talked to me about what was happening. I had the choice to come to Milan and it was up to them, the clubs, to find an agreement, and I’m happy that finally I’m here. In terms of giving up, there were some agreement with the Club made but I had to let go that part. For me the only thing was to come to Milan.”

Charles De Ketelaere at La Madonnina Clinic. (@acmilan.com)

You have a taught us how to pronounce your difficult name, but do you have a nickname?
“My name here they say Charles [Shar-le] or Charles in English, and it’s just Charles a bit in the French way [smiles], but I don’t care how everybody calls me. If I can just play football I’m happy!”

We know that you have joined Milan because it’s a big Club due to its rich history. But in this special moment, Milan have given much importance to young talents – Maldini, Massara, Gazidis, Gerry Cardinale, they all have this strategy of focusing on young talent. Was this also one of the reasons for you to come to Milan?
“For me it was important to see that Milan give chances and also you see the young players grow here, you see that in the recent past young players become better here and they made the team better. So it was good to see that and it made for sure a huge difference in choosing.”

Paolo Maldini, Charles De Ketelaere, Ivan Gazidis and Frederic Massara at Casa Milan. (@acmilan.com)

All the Milan fans see in your Kaká because of your age, the way you look, your characteristics. Do you feel similar to him?
“Speaking of Kaká, I know what a fantastic player he was. I saw some videos of him, maybe you can say he’s quite similar, but I’m myself, I have my own qualities, other qualities and we’re different. But I hope for sure that I can bring the same to Milan like he did.”

You have chosen the #90 for the jersey. There is also another Belgian that plays here, Lukaku, who has chosen the same number. We already feel a Derby atmosphere here in Milano for this presence of Belgian players…
“I had this number at Club Brugge. For me numbers are not so important but I had it, it brought me luck and brought me success, so I said why not keep it…”

Charles De Ketelaere during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

How have you felt in these first days? Has there been anything that surprised you, that you were not expecting coming from Belgium? And again, do you have a nickname? Because it’s a curiosity for us to know if you do…
“No, I don’t have a nickname yet, they just say Charles [laughs] and I’m happy with that. As for the things in Milano that are different, it’s a different country, you feel directly the weather is different than in Belgium. But also other things – the intensity in training, how everybody goes for it and the intensity: nobody lets down the intensity in things like running, everybody goes full for it also in training and that’s good to see. I think that’s what the team needs to win titles, and I think that’s why they became Champions and you also the quality they have, so these are the things I noticed.”

How hard was it for you to integrate in this environment with world class players and how well do you they know?
“I’m still integrating, I just had 2-3 training sessions, so I have to know the players, to know how the team is going, the dynamics a bit. I’m doing well, everybody is welcoming me in a good way, they ask how I feel, they help me on the pitch in what they expect, the Coach tells me what he expects, the players are also helping in that way. So yeah, I’m finding out and hoping to be ready and integrated as soon as possible.”

Charles De Ketelaere during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Did you manage to get some rest? Because this has been quite a hectic week, I’d imagine…
“The first days were quite busy with all the tests and the training. Yesterday afternoon I had some rest and I’m just hoping to be integrated as fast as possible and then we’ll have some rest…”

Did you also want to go to a big top club in Europe to have a bigger chance to be in the World Cup squad of Roberto Martínez? Did he spoke to you about that?
“I spoke to him, but he was not trying to influence my choices. He just listened to me and what my feelings were, so I told him that I wanted to go to Milan, that I was interested in going there and that I was convinced that I would also play to go to the World Cup, because for him it’s important that you get minutes. And I’m convinced that I can have minutes and can show myself. And then it’s up to me to show myself and he’ll see. But for me the chance to go to Milan was one to not let go.”

Charles De Ketelaere during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Did you have to negotiate a bit with your girlfriend, Jozefien Van de Velde, to come to Milan? Because she has her studies of course… how are you going to arrange this together?
“No, she just follows me where I go and she’s happy that I can make this step in my career, so for us it’s also a big step to come and live here. So, she hopes to come with me but we’ll see with the studies…”

We’ve all had our idols – how did it feel to you when an idol like Paolo Maldini called you?
“Yes, he is a big part of the Milan history but also from the present – he works here and he influences a lot of things, so I’m grateful that they tried to bring me in and it had an influence. But the project for me was more important than the person Maldini himself, but I have a lot of respect for him and his career and for sure it was a nice feeling to get a call from him.”

Charles De Ketelaere during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Could you describe yourself under a technical point of view, your technical characteristics? And also, under a tactical point of you – in which position do you prefer to play: centrally, or on the right or in both positions? Which position do you prefer on the pitch?
“I think I’m a player with good technical qualities, I have a good first touch and all these things. Also I think I can score and give assists in the last part of the field. I’m also a dynamic player who likes to run deep, to make spaces also in function of the team. And in terms of position, I’ve played in a lot of positions in my career: when I was young I always was a real attacking midfielder but I grew more into an attacker, and as an attacker I played a real 9 but also as false 9 and an attacking midfielder. I think at this moment I prefer something of a role with a striker around me, and I can go deep and also can come in midfield, so that’s my favorite position.”

In the history of Milan we have had many attacking midfielders, like Savićević, Rui Costa, Ronaldinho, and Kaká – the one you are very often compared to. So are you ready to take their legacy and have an important role as an attacking midfielder at Milan?
“For me I’m just looking to the future, I think also the Coach and the Board – their goal is just to look at the future. Milan have had a big history but I think everybody within the Club is now looking forward to let the Club grow again and let it compete with the best of the world again. So I just hope I can help with that and then we’ll see how I do and how you compare me with the legends, but that’s not really what I’m thinking about. I’m just thinking about improving, helping the team and becoming as good as possible.”

Charles De Ketelaere at Casa Milan. (@acmilan.com)

Is there an opponent you are anxious to challenge in the next Serie A championship? Lukaku, Lautaro Martínez, Dybala… there are so many names of opponents you may be eager to challenge in the next championship? Is there anyone you’d like to mention?
“Yes there are a lot of big stars in Serie A, so in that point you can say that I’m eager to challenge them but I don’t really think about other players or other teams, just think about how I can be the best I can be, and I can improve with the team, with myself… but for sure, Serie A has a lot of big names and a lot of good challenges for the team.”

Last season, Milan managed to win the Scudetto but in the Champions League they stopped in the Group Stage. How much do think with your qualities you can help the team in pushing up forwards in the Champions League?
“I think it’s a big goal for the team and for the Club to go to the next round of the Champions League. I also think it’s possible with the quality that is here, they just won Serie A so we’d have to do everything to get to the next round and from there on you can see who you play against, then it’s a knock-out phase and anything can happen. You see it also in all the previous seasons of the Champions League, but the first goal is to go to the next round and we have to do everything.”

Is there any European champion or footballer who you feel like is an inspiration, who you like the most? And do you feel already at their same level or do you believe you still need something to grow and reach the level of the top European players?
“My idol when I was young was actually Cristiano Ronaldo, when he played for Manchester United and then went to Real Madrid. I was a big fan of him. In terms of if I think I’m at his level – I think it’s impossible to say that at my age, coming from a team of the Belgian league. But I’m sure I’m going to do my best to grow and, as I said, be the best player I can be, and be a good player for Milan.”

I know Ibrahimović is not at Milanello now, but have you received a welcome message from him? What is the effect you have in having him on the pitch, in playing with him and maybe giving assists to him?
“I think I can learn a lot from him, because you see how many years he has in European football. At my age I can learn from everyone who is older, who is more experienced, and I’m looking forward to train with him and to be in the dressing room, as you say. So I’m just looking forward to be with him and with the team.”

Charles De Ketelaere during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Under a technical point of view, we will appreciate your technical skills on the pitch in addition to what you have told us about you. But off the pitch, I’d like to know what your interest are, how was your pathway growth in Brugge? So what can you tell us about you off the pitch?
“Off the pitch I’m just a guy who likes to be with his family and do some normal things in life, but I’m also a huge sports fan, I follow a lot of sports and football as well and I like to watch it. So that’s what I do a lot, that’s a little bit what I like.”

I’d like to know how you feel, how are you? Are you ready to make your debut in the friendly match in Vicenza?
“Yes, for sure. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, to play some minutes. The Coach told me I’m going to play some minutes so I’m just hoping to show something.”

Charles De Ketelaere at Casa Milan. (@acmilan.com)

I’d like to know about you as a Tennis player. I read that when you were 12 or 13-years-old you were very good at Tennis, you were probably taking inspiration from David Goffin. But I’d like to know why this change – why you shifted to football from Tennis and what have you taken from Tennis? This fact of having always having reflexes, always not thinking about the previous mistake and being ready to start again? What has the game of Tennis given to you as a footballer?
“That’s correct, I played a lot of Tennis until I was 12-years-old. I also played football at that moment with Club Brugge. But for me the choice in that moment was easy because I just like to play football with my friends and Tennis at that moment a little too ‘professional’ at that young age, so I just liked to play with my friends and that’s why I stopped playing. And as for the part of what it brought me, I think it’s more of an emotional sport because you have to do everything in your own mind, everything you do is your own fault because it’s a sport you do alone. I think mentally it brought me a lot already at that young age to football and also to develop my coordination and stuff and all those things.”

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