Southampton have joined the race to sign Club Brugge midfielder Charles De Ketelaere this summer, according to an Italian outlet.
The Lowdown: De Ketelaere profiled
The 21-year-old, who was once likened to Kevin De Bruyne by journalist Frans Buyse, currently plies his trade at the Jan Breydel Stadium. He has played in a variety of roles for the Belgian giants, primarily in central areas but also behind the strikers and even up top, making him a versatile footballer.
Despite still having two years remaining on his contract, he has become a man in demand after a run of impressive performances last season, and it sounds as though a few potential suitors from the Premier League have emerged, including from St Mary’s.
The Latest: Southampton enter De Ketelaere race
According to Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport (via Sport Witness), AC Milan are currently leading the chase for De Ketelaere, but they are set to face competition from Southampton and Leeds United for his signature.
The source claimed that the Serie A champions have already had a €20m (£16.9m) bid turned down, whilst Jesse Marsch’s side are believed to have made an offer of €30m (£25.3m) of their own.
It’s reported that Milan are hoping that an increased fee will be enough for them to ‘overcome the competition of the English’, as the Saints have been ‘added to Leeds’, both of who could present Brugge with a ‘rich offer’ alongside a ‘super salary’ for the player.
The Verdict: No need to spend big
Milan hold the advantage of having Champions League football to their name, something which will probably prove too good of an opportunity for De Ketelaere to turn down, but Hassenhuttl doesn’t need to be spending such large sums of money anyway.
Southampton look set to announce the signing of another midfielder in Joe Aribo from Rangers for a much cheaper sum of just £10m, so the Austrian isn’t required to go out and buy multiple players in the same position.
Should De Ketelaere be a priority for Southampton?
It has been a relatively quiet window for the south coast club in terms of financial purchases, but it’s important that the manager targets various areas of the pitch to give himself plenty of squad depth heading into the new season, rather than being imbalanced towards one particular position to the detriment of others.
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