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Club Brugges left Leeds United transfer target Charles De Ketelaere out of their squad for a pre-season friendly amid claims a decision on his future is closing in.
The 21-year-old forward finds himself a player in high demand this summer. He scored 18 goals and added 10 assists for Brugges last season as they were crowned champions of the Jupiler Pro. And his elevation into the Belgium national ranks has only served to further interest securing De Ketelaere’s services.
That hunt, for much of the last year, has been led by Leicester. Brendan Rodgers’ side are known admirers of the player, first being linked with him around Christmas.
However, noises in recent weeks have suggested it is Leeds who are the most keen. Desperate to add a new striker, Leeds have submitted a club-record bid of £30m, with bonuses, for his services.
The Whites, though, are not alone with AC Milan also making an approach for his services. Their initial offer fell well short of Leeds’ with the Serie A champions only putting an initial £17.2m (€20m) on the table.
That said, De Ketelaere seemingly only has eyes for Milan. Stefano Pioli’s side can offer the player Champions League football and talks between his agent and technical director Paulo Maldini have been positive.
And while Milan have some work to do to match Leeds’ offer, reports on Saturday claim Milan are preparing an increased bid.
Now it seems a second offer from Milan is set to do the trick. As per Sempre Milan, De Ketelaere has already said yes to Milan subject to an agreement between the clubs.
Milan to submit improved Charles De Ketelaere offer
Tuttosport claims Maldini will submit this to Brugges in the coming days, with the offer likely to be accepted.
Milan are preparing a straight cash bid, though Milan youngsters Andreas Jungdal and Emil Roback may yet be used as makeweights in the deal.
They also report that Leeds are now ‘resigned’ to their fate and are now preparing to look elsewhere.
Another Italian paper, Libero, claims De Ketelaere can expect to finalise the deal in the coming days.
They state the eight-times capped Belgium international was left out of Brugges’ pre-season clash on Saturday as a result of his imminent transfer.
The match against FC Copenhagen in Denmark, ended in a 4-2 defeat for the Belgian side.
Leeds bid remains – but it’s not looking good
As a result, Leeds may be left with little choice but to move on to other targets.
It’s a shame for the Whites given they have managed to land pretty much all their other targets so far this summer. Indeed, with six names already through the door, Leeds can be satisfied with their work so far.
But it is a new striker that they desperately crave – and understandably so. Patrick Bamford only managed 560 minutes of Premier League football last season. As such, they lacked a real presence up front in his absence.
De Ketelaere was an ambitious target – and they were right to aim high hoping they could out-muscle Milan in negotiations.
Now Milan appear to have matched, or come close to, their bid, Leeds may have to look elsewhere.
They will already have more than likely started work on alternative targets. To that end, Leeds are also reportedly keen on PSG’s Arnaud Kalimuendo. The 20-year-old is rated in the £17m bracket. And PSG are seemingly willing to sell as long as a buy-back clause is included.
The Whites are also reportedly closing on a deal for Sonny Perkins with the former West Ham man set to become signing No 7 this summer.
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