Club Brugge CEO Reveals Details Behind De Ketelaere Deal

Charles De Ketelaere joined Milan after a transfer saga that extended over the summer. Club Brugge director Vincent Mannaert has spilled the beans on the extensive negotiations that eventually saw the talented playmaker leave his boyhood club for the prestigious Rossoneri shirt. The starlet had only one club in mind in the end despite Leeds United’s spendthrift efforts to lure him to the Premier League.

Mannaert spoke to Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Calciomercato) in an exclusive interview, shedding light on the talks between the seven-time European champions and the Belgian giants for the highly-rated attacker.

“It was a normal negotiation, but a very long one. It seemed like a soap opera to all of us. I sold Loïs Openda in 72 hours, but the number of days were never enough for De Ketelaere.”

When quizzed if there was any danger of negotiations falling apart, the exec shrugged off any such reports.

“Never. There was a lot of stress, but Milan came to Bruges to meet us. And you don’t do it if you are not really interested.”

Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara led talks from the Rossoneri end, with the former being one of the first to notice and put forth De Ketelaere’s name for a summer move.

“I had known Massara from the days of Roma, Maldini was a revelation. They were professional, in a context of great respect. Probably in delicate moments they put more pressure on the agents, threatening to blow up the deal.”

Finally, Mannaert provided thoughts on how the Belgian can become a star.

“It’s up to Charles, he can become a top player in a top team. He has to put on a few pounds of muscle, that is the main challenge. He has an advantage: a great ability to adapt quickly. If the coach explains one thing to him, he immediately brings it onto the pitch. He knows what to expect, and he has always done well under pressure.”

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