Belgian midfielder Charles De Ketelaere admits things did not work during his time at Milan, but that was partly his fault as well. The 220year-old arrived in Milan last summer but a disappointing debut campaign saw him fail to register a single goal, despite making over 30 appearances for the club. Speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Belgian admitted it was a difficult first season in Italy, and explained why he needed to get more of a feel for the matches, rather than always coming on as a sub:
“When you arrive in a new place there is a lot to do. You have to adapt to the country, the system of play, the language. But of course, if it didn’t work out at AC Milan, it was also partly my fault: it wasn’t the season I expected, but I don’t regret it.
“I didn’t always reach a high level, and entering the game as I often did didn’t help. I’m not an explosive guy, I feel better when I’m on the pitch for a longer period of time and can really get into the flow of a match. The criticism did the rest: I don’t always read the papers, I try to isolate myself. But still you hear them and you don’t remain indifferent. Never having scored was a problem: people ask for goals and assists, they don’t just look at performance.
“Did Milan suggest I leave? In part yes. But even I knew I would have little space. Throughout the summer there were market negotiations. I asked myself: do I wait for my chance, do I stay even if I play a little less? Or do I go to another team to prove myself? The second hypothesis made me feel better. Atalanta even more so. The new challenge (and the new role) is in Bergamo with Gasperini: ‘I want to prove myself at the club. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to PSV or other teams, I simply wanted Atalanta.
“Here I am playing higher, closer to the goal: in this way I can become the best version of myself again. Last year I was an attacking midfielder instead.”
“At Milan, I learned a lot, tactically I have more experience. In absolute terms, I know I have become a better player.”