Ex-Belgium international reveals concerns about De Ketelaere but backs him and Origi to impress
Ex-Belgium international reveals concerns about De Ketelaere but backs him and Origi to impress

Former Belgium international Alex Czerniatynski has backed both of AC Milan’s summer additions Charles De Ketelaere and Divock Origi to have success.

Origi arrived on a free transfer from Liverpool and De Ketelaere came in a big-money move (by Milan’s recent standards) from Club Brugge, but nobody yet truly knows what to expect from either. If you feel confident on calling the season ahead though, have a flutter with a bonus.

Czerniatynski – who played for Standard Liège, Anderlecht, Malines as well as the Belgian national team – spoke exclusively to MilanNews about De Ketelaere and Origi and what they can bring to the team.

Is Charles De Ketelaere worth €35m to you?

“Charles had a good season in Bruges but it’s true that 35 million is a lot. Especially because we cannot compare the Pro League to the Premier League, La Liga or Serie A. De Ketelaere has quality but the price paid is a bit high. 

“At Milan there is more competition than at Brugge and in Italy all matches are difficult for a striker. Everyone is asking: is it worth the 35 million that Milan spent to buy it? We have to wait until the end of this season to be able to give a definitive answer. 

“He is young but he will have to confirm himself in a very complicated championship like the Italian one. I repeat, we will have the answer only in a few months. “

What are the qualities that stand out the most?

“His excellent technique, above average. He has the easy play, is quick with the ball and scores easily. But perhaps he is too light and lacks physical power. And this scares me a bit because in certain games he will have more problems to impose himself. 

“He must also improve in headers. But in all the big clubs you work a lot on the body and I’m sure Charles will increase his muscle mass at Milan, because he will need it. I have faced the Italian teams in European competitions and I can say that the contacts with the Italian defenders are quite tough. More than in Belgium.”

Can we consider him a footballer capable of breaking games open?

“It’s true but now it’s up to him to find the right spaces because in Italy the defences are stronger than in Belgium. But Charles is very good in the strait. In the Pro League he always found solutions, even against closed defences. 

“In Italy it will be different, you will also have to manage the pressure and the very high cost of the card. It is the most expensive purchase of the Rossoneri summer and for a young man like him it is not easy. 

“Here in Belgium the press talks about Brugge for a day or two after the game, then that’s it. In Italy, the Gazzetta dello Sport dedicates 50 pages every day to football alone. Charles will be analysed from head to toe and every mistake he makes on the pitch will end up in the papers. The pressure to manage is enormous, let’s see if he has broad shoulders to face it. “

How many goals do you think you will be able to score in Serie A? Is it possible that he reaches 15?

“He isn’t an attacking that turns a half chance into the goal. He’s not a Gerd Muller or Van Basten who didn’t need a lot of chances to score. Charles is not your typical penalty area poacher, he moves so much sideways and deep. 

“But I would be the first to congratulate him if he scores 15 goals. Because in Italy it is not easy for an attacker to score 15 times.”

Origi said that De Ketelaere is a mix between Kakà and Kai Havertz, but many forget Thomas Muller…

“Thomas Muller and Kakà have proven to be strong players throughout their careers. But to me, De Ketelaere is more like Ricky than the Bayern Munich player who works like a madman on the pitch during the ninety minutes. But it is still too early to make some comparisons, let’s wait another year or two. 

“Charles is young and has a long way to go. Then it is normal that Origi compares him to great players, they are teammates. If I can give some advice, it is better not to compare him already to Kaka, otherwise the pressure increases even more. Better to keep your feet on the ground.”

And is your other compatriot Divock Origi ready to be the Milan starter?

“I have always liked Origi. In the clubs where he has played he has shown that he can score every time he enters the field. And having played for a big club like Liverpool, he also has more experience than De Ketelaere. After that, I don’t know very well what the competition will be up front. But when he is given an opportunity he will have to use it to show that he can establish himself as the owner of Milan.”

Could he also be decisive as a starter and not just as a substitute as it has already been in the past?

“Yes, but this is a question that is perhaps still too early to answer. Let’s wait. But whether it’s Origi or De Ketelaere, when you are given an opportunity to play in a club like Milan you have to give it your all because there are ten players on the bench who would like to steal your place. 

“Fans ask for goals from the attackers. And from Origi, being a new signing, the AC Milan fans expect this in addition to great performances. I have experienced it during my career and I can say that scoring a goal for a striker is important to immediately shake off the pressure. But imagine if after seven, eight weeks, both Origi and De Ketelaere still haven’t scored? There will be criticism.”

Will learning Italian be important to get right into the mechanisms?

“Sure, it’s important that you learn the language but I don’t think this will be a problem for Origi.”

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