Charles De Ketelaere‘s debut season to forget showed little sign of improving, as the midfielder was unable to help AC Milan avoid a 2-1 defeat to Fiorentina in Serie A on Saturday. The Belgian started the clash at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and showed some glimpses of creativity, but worryingly remains without a goal all season.
Fiorentina were by far the better side and dominated the first half, getting the goal they deserved when Fikayo Tomori bundled Jonathan Ikone over, and Nico Gonzalez slotted home from the penalty spot. The win was wrapped up late on via a fine diving header from Luka Jovic, on an emotional night in Florence as the fifth anniversary of the tragic death of defender Davide Astori was marked.
Ahead of their crucial Champions League tie against Tottenham Hotspur next week, Milan looked out of sorts and saw their top four hopes dented despite a late Theo Hernandez goal, in a performance that exposed their lack of options beyond star man Rafael Leao.
Indecisive De Ketelaere
After joining Milan as a marquee signing from Club Brugges in a deal that could reach €35 million, De Ketelaere has so far failed to live up to expectations and is yet to score a goal for the Rossoneri, whilst he has laid on just a single assist, back in August.
Given a rare start in place of the suspended Leao, De Ketelaere had the opportunity to stake a place in the team again and prove that he has found his feet in Italy, but once again he flattered to deceive, despite it being one of his better games.
The 21-year-old played off strikers Ante Rebic and Olivier Giroud, and whilst he produced a couple of moments of inspiration on the ball, another game without a goal or assist contribution will only see the pressure on him mount.
De Ketelaere‘s dangerous cross on the stroke of half-time was teasing but Rebic couldn’t get on the end of it, whilst he also slipped in the Croat for an opportunity as Milan chased an equaliser in the second half, but the Diavolo may be running out of patience in him.
Maignan shows Milan what they’ve been missing
One positive to come out of the match in Florence was the performance of goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who made his long-awaited return from injury last week after being out since September.
The France international was excellent and parried two early Gonzalez efforts, as well as denying Giacomo Bonaventura, before a magnificent low stop kept out Jovic late on.
Milan have certainly missed Maignan since he underwent knee surgery, with Ciprian Tatarasanu not able to offer the same level of protection and the Rossoneri’s ambitions for the season suffering as a result. With crucial fixtures against Spurs, Udinese, and Napoli over the coming weeks, Maignan‘s return couldn’t have come soon enough.