Striker's agents lift lid on Leeds United bid to sign star man and make admission about Whites
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Leeds had hoped to sign Belgian international striker De Ketelaere this summer but the 21-year-old has instead left Brugge to join AC Milan for a reported 35m euros.
Leeds, though, say they players' agents, had offered a higher transfer fee and went all out to sign a striker who would have played every week.
Speaking to Het Laatste Nieuws as quoted by Football Italia, De Ketelaere's agents Tom De Mul and Yama Sharifi said: “Not only Milan, many clubs inquired. West Ham, Newcastle, Arsenal.
"Those clubs didn’t push 100 per cent. Arsenal signed Gabriel Jesus, who had already proven himself in the Premier League.
“Barcelona also followed him for a long time, but we thought it was not the right move.
"Financially, Leeds would have been the better option. For Bruges, for Charles, for us.
“But Charles wanted to wait a little longer: ‘If there is another option, maybe I can consider whether going to Leeds is the right thing to do.’ When Charles heard that Milan wanted him 100 per cent, things started to change.
“Milan had been following him since his early days, but the first contacts date back two years.
"At the time they thought Charles was a great talent, but they wanted a player who could come in right away.
“They took their time to assess how good he could become. Maldini and Massara meanwhile asked us all kinds of questions. What kind of person is he? What is this guy?”
Reflecting on the strong attempts of Leeds to sign the striker, they revealed: “It was very concrete. Even Charles noticed it. They absolutely wanted him, he would play there every week.
"Jesse March is a first-rate coach. At one point Charles said he would like to hear from another club, to see if Leeds was the right step.
“He wanted to be able to compare. We phoned Milan: ‘If you really want him, you have to push now. And push well, not half-heartedly.’ Maldini was still busy with his contract, but then he called him.
“Charles also had a good conversation with Pioli and was completely convinced. Only Leeds offered €40m and Milan had a limit. However, Brugge would not sell him for €20m, so Milan had to raise the offer.
“We insisted a bit, showing our aggressive side. At one point the deal seemed dead. After the meeting in Belgium, the clubs no longer wanted to talk to each other.“Then we went to Lugano. Two superpowers confronted each other and it became a real battle. The outside world cannot understand how difficult it was to resolve such a situation. Tom and I had to decide the strategy. We did everything to make the transfer succeed."