Mikel Arteta has brought a focus of bringing in some of the most exciting young talents in a variety of positions to the club. All the players bought in 2021 were of 23 years of age or younger and have all made an impact in Arsenal’s Champions League qualification chase.
Plenty of forwards in a similar age bracket have been linked to Arsenal. Darwin Nunez, Jonathan David, Alexander Isak and Victor Osimhen are all players to see suggestions that the Gunners are following them. Yet there remains a player in the age group that continues to evade the eyes of the club’s scouts, at least publicly.
Belgian international and 21-year-old star Charles De Ketelaere has 18 goals and an additional nine assists this season in all competitions. He has been on the radar of some of Europe’s biggest clubs but not Arsenal’s.
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Speaking to Belgian football writer for HLN, Manu Clerx, he could not have been more complimentary of the Club Brugge forward. Although he does point out that his final position is not finalised.
“Charles De Ketelaere is such a beautiful yet efficient player to watch. His elegance, the way he controls his body. He’s adapted really well to his role as a striker. He used his body really well and adapts to his new role as if he’s been doing it for a long time,” said Clerx.
“If you think I believe striker is his best position, it’s hard to say in modern-day football but the fact he should be played centrally should be set in stone. You can get away with playing him in a midfield three but I think if you give him the number nine shirt, he will score you a lot of goals if you give him the trust.”
Looking to find out more on perhaps why De Ketelaere is yet to move, Daan Paredis of Belgian outlet HBVL has an answer. Pointing toward his ability to play in so many positions hampering the club’s assurances about where he would fit in.
“A victim of his versatility, because he can do pretty every role in a front three. That’s also one of the reasons he is not yet valued as an out and out striker. His best position is surely as a (false) striker. One of his flaws for the Premier League might be his duel power, but he used his body really smartly in a duel,” said Paredis.
“He needs to be more efficient, but he’s improving a lot in that aspect, and he has been scoring them in important games like in the UCL. When Brugge were sinking he used to sink with them, but he has learned to drag the team through a game with decisive 1-0 victories. If he can do it in the play-offs at the end of the season, he will surely make that step.”
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang already gone in addition to Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah both expected to leave at the end of the season, more than one forward will be needed in the summer. Gabriel Jesus looks a strong possibility to be one of those two.
De Ketelaere and Jesus contrast very nicely. The diminutive Brazilian who can operate both centrally and wide on the right is a great creator in addition to a goalscorer.
De Ketelaere creates plenty himself but just visually comparing the pair immediately shows you the differences between them. The 6ft 3in height of the Belgian makes him the tallest member of all Arsenal’s attacking options.
The Gunners need some verticality to their attacks and De Ketelaere will provide it, but he is far from a ‘plan B’ type player. His technical ability stacks up too and Arsenal should certainly not be ignorant of the 21-year-old as an option.
Source by Football London