The Charles De Ketelaere debate: Can he show his worth at Atalanta after nightmare year at AC Milan?

Charles De Ketelaere's Atalanta career couldn't have had a better start, and a debut goal was just what the doctor ordered after a tough time at AC Milan. Now, though, is he ready to show his worth in Bergamo over the course of the season?


Charles De Ketelaere enjoyed a dream debut at Atalanta. The Belgian, having arrived in Bergamo from AC Milan during the summer, came off the bench at half time for the Nerazzurri and scored the opening goal for La Dea as they claimed a 2-0 win away at Sassuolo in their 2023/24 Serie A opener. 

Although his impact on the game was immediate after his half-time introduction, it didn’t always look as though the game was going to go entirely De Ketelaere‘s way. He missed a big chance as he headed over the crossbar from close range just minutes after coming on, and then went even closer by crashing a shot against the crossbar from the edge of the box. After that second miss, many at the Mapei Stadium and watching on from home would have been wondering if the Belgian was in for another season of misfortune.

De Ketelaere makes dream Atalanta debut

Luck just didn’t seem to be on his side, as was the case for so much of his season at AC Milan as well. But it turned. Meeting another cross with his head from close range, De Ketelaere looked to have been denied by an Andrea Consigli save, only for technology to determine that his attempt had crossed the line, and he was up and running as an Atalanta player.

A lot of excitement had greeted De Ketelaere‘s arrival in Bergamo, and the Atalanta fans in attendance in Reggio Emilia gave him a warm reception as he came off the bench, and then again with every subsequent touch he had. The travelling supporters encouraged him throughout, as did his teammates on the pitch.

The De Ketelaere debate: Will he succeed at Atalanta? 

Social media reacted in huge numbers to De Ketelaere‘s Atalanta debut, with fans of the Bergamaschi, AC Milan, and other clubs as well getting involved. 

The overwhelming sentiment from La Dea supporters was one of excitement and a real belief that their new No.17 is exactly what they have needed and he has already been christened Il Principino – the Little Prince – by some. A lot of people had been comparing him to Josip Ilicic even before his debut for the club, so much so that Gian Piero Gasperini had to insist that the two players are not the same. 

Even a number of AC Milan fans shared their satisfaction for the 22-year-old, questioning Stefano Pioli‘s use of him at the Stadio San Siro.

Nadir Zortea celebrates scoring for Atalanta with Marten de Roon, Berat Djimsiti and Charles De Ketelaere. (Facebook: Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio)

Others, though, remain unconvinced and believe that more evidence is needed before any conclusions are made about him, sensibly suggesting that one headed goal is not yet enough to definitively say that he will shine at Atalanta


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