De Ketelaere’s Atalanta Resurgence Threatens Milan Ambitions

Sunday’s Serie A top-five six-pointer between Milan and Atalanta brings prodigal son Charles De Ketelaere back to San Siro. It’s been a transformative campaign for the Rossoneri loanee, and he’ll be out to heighten the pressure on his former manager, Stefano Pioli, tonight.

Pioli proved terminally unable to work with De Ketelaere after Milan forked out €35 million to sign him from Club Brugge in 2022. During his first season in Italy, the Belgian starlet went from one of Europe’s most exciting talents into a forgotten man. 

Swapping Milan for Atalanta in the summer of 2023 has flipped the script. While Pioli didn’t know how to use De Ketelaere’s qualities, Gian Piero Gasperini has rekindled the 22-year-old’s career, making him one of the fiercest forwards in Serie A.

De Ketelaere has tallied ten goals and seven assists between the league and cup competitions this season. To put his significance to Gasperini’s tactics in perspective, the prodigious forward has racked up 28 appearances, establishing himself as indispensable.

De Ketelaere will lead the line at San Siro as Atalanta seek a third victory against Milan this season. La Dea won 3-2 in the reverse fixture, courtesy of Luis Muriel’s stoppage-time winner. But De Ketelaere embarrassed himself in that contest, missing the target from barely a yard out.

He was on the bench as Teun Koopmeiner’s brace turned Atalanta’s Coppa Italia quarter-final tie against Milan on its head in January. Gasperini’s side claimed a 2-1 win at San Siro, where they’re unbeaten in eight of their last ten matches. 

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