Charles de Ketelaere: Belgium’s Next-Gen Genius

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. edging closer to the end of their scintillating careers, there’s already a number of great young footballers catching the spotlight.

Belgium’s Charles De Ketelaere is definitely amongst some of the most exciting young players today.

Belgium has been a fertile land for producing great names in the footballing world, after Lukaku and De Bruyne, it seems like the torch will be passed to Charles.

Why not assess De Ketelaere’s journey until now and what the future holds for him, seeing his endless potential which keeps on getting better season after season?

Physical and Technical Attributes

His versatility will be a massive asset to any prospective club
His versatility will be a massive asset to any prospective club

The left-footed Belgian forward is a perfect modern-day offensive player, with a touch of versatility and technique in his gameplay, he can very well assist, create and score goals.

With a relatively tall stature of 6’3, Charles has an ideal physique and all the essential tools under his belt to succeed as a memorable player in the beautiful game.

With impeccable understanding and reading of the game, Charles exploits spaces amazingly on and off the ball.

Whether playing as a winger, striker, or a false 9, he has proven to be a constant threat for the opposition, thanks to his brilliant and intelligent understanding.

Though, the young Belgian still has a long way to go, as many aspects of his game need improvement. With the potential and talent he possesses, the sky is the limit!

Working on his final shot is crucial for him right now, but with age comes improvement and he’s still only 20 years of age. A kid becoming a man!

How It Began?

His boyhood club has been instrumental to his development
His boyhood club has been instrumental to his development

Let’s rewind back to the start for Charles De Ketelaere. He was born on 10th March 2001 in Belgian city Bruges, a city where his footballing destiny was written.

At 7 years of age, he got enrolled into the youth academy of his local club, famously named Club Brugge. At the Belgian outfit, Charles ascended through the youth ranks to become the player he is today.

Though, his story involves a fascinating twist during his childhood, which we will talk about next.

Tennis

Tennis? What has it got to do with a professional football player? But, it has everything to do with Charles De Ketelaere, a talented tennis player who was destined to become great in this sport as he idealized Roger Federer all his childhood.

Charles was also Flemish tennis champion at the age of 10, and footage of him playing tennis from a decade ago revolve around the internet.

At some point during his adolescent years, a decision had to be made between two great sports, and seeing De Ketelaere’s recent progress, he made the right choice by following his football dream. He was made for it!

Breaking Into the First Team

He is the epitome of the saying 'If you're good enough, you're old enough'
He is the epitome of the saying ‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’

During the summer of 2019, 7 academy products were introduced in pre-season, De Ketelaere was one of them. Until the season kick-started, later on, only 2 players were kept in the first-team dynamics and Charles was once again one of them.

After around 11 years of youth football, Charles was finally given the chance he had dreamt of, as his professional debut for Club Brugge came on 25 September 2019 against Franc Borains in the Belgian Cup. At just 18 years old, he looked like a perfect fit in professional football.

Later on, he made his Champions League debut against Paris Saint Germain on 22 October 2019, the match didn’t go quite as well for the Belgians as Paris thrashed them 5-0 in Europe’s most prestigious tournament, but it was a night when Charles became vital for Brugge.

Watching him play with great composure, he seemed like a veteran in action, and eventually, his position in the team became undisputable for Club Brugge as he went on to appear 25 times in his debut season.

After his maiden season in the first-team squad, everything changed. He signed a 3-year professional contract with Club Brugge in April 2020. And rest is history

Showing the World What He Is Made of

He has gained vital Champions League experience for Club Brugge
He has gained vital Champions League experience for Club Brugge

After bagging a Belgian league title in his first professional season, Charles de Ketelaere kept thriving. By the end of the 2020-21 season, he had already become a young asset for the Club Brugge who they dearly love.

He made 46 appearances in that season alone. Quite a number for 19 years old!

And yet the highlight of his season wasn’t the amount of time he spent on the pitch, it was the way he played the game. In the 2020-21 season, the world got to see the incredible versatility he possesses.

Until then, he was only being played on the left flank in the front 3, but, in Champions League fixture against Borussia Dortmund, Charles was deployed as a left-back.

He came through once again. Later on, he was also played centrally, in the false 9, second striker, and as a striker itself. That’s where Ketelaere’s best attributes were discovered as he proved to be clinical in playmaking and scoring goals.

Just like the previous season, the silverware kept coming in for Charles. He was an instrumental part of Brugge’s team that won back-to-back league titles. Moreover, he also lifted the Belgian Super Cup in the 2020-21 season.

2021/2022 Season

He is compared to Kevin de Bruyne due to his prolific play style
He is compared to Kevin de Bruyne due to his prolific play style

As De Ketelaere is getting closer to his prime years, he is improving likewise. His performances are becoming more solid, and his numbers keep spiking up every season.

He remains an integral part of Alfred Schreuder’s new project at Brugge. As of now, he has played every league fixture for the Belgian outfit.

As we are halfway into the season, Charles has 9 goals to his name, which is a massively improved tally compared to his previous season. There’s more to it, he has also assisted 6 times.

The team is already in the semi-finals of the Belgian super cup, and Charles may get to lift 4th trophy of his career.

There’s a long way to go this season, and De Ketelaere isn’t done yet. How many goals will he rack up by the end of the season?

Future and Possible Transfers

Many big clubs in Europe are enquiring about de Ketelaere
Many big clubs in Europe are enquiring about de Ketelaere

After his rise into European football in the last 3 years, many big names are circling and closely examining the situation of De Ketelaere at Club Brugge.

It’s evident that players like Charles are made for greatness, and such players need to play in the best possible teams to realize this potential.

Although he has spent his whole football career at Brugge, it is highly unlikely that De Ketelaere will continue there for an extended period of time.

As we mentioned, many great clubs have shown keen interest in signing the Belgian national, and according to rumors and reports, some clubs have even prepared offers to sign him in the 2022 summer transfer window.

There is strong interest in Charles’s services from Premier league clubs which include the likes of Leicester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United. All of these clubs are giants of European football.

Leicester City, reportedly, even made attempts to sign him during the current winter transfer window. But, with several years left of De Ketelaere’s contract with Brugge, he has a relatively big price tag.

He is not only wanted in England, Serie A clubs like Lazio and AC Milan are also amongst the interested parties. Everyone would like to get their hands on a prospect like De Ketelaere, but it won’t be an easy operation at all.

But the move towards Premier League is highly likely. Only time will tell as we have to wait until the next transfer window to hear the player’s stance on the matter.

International Career – Belgium

de Ketelaere has worn the number 14 jersey for Belgium
de Ketelaere has worn the number 14 jersey for Belgium

The path for earning a cap in the National team comes through great performances in club football today, and De Ketelaere has defeated all the odds in the process and finally got to represent his country. He has found himself playing alongside the likes of De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. Quite an achievement, right?

After enjoying a breakthrough year with his club, he was called up by the Belgium National team in November 2020, where he got to put on the national jersey for the first time against Switzerland.

Charles once again joined the National team in 2021, as he made 3 appearances for the Red Devils last year. His first goal for his country came in October 2021 against Italy.

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