MILAN (AP) — New AC Milan signing Charles De Ketelaere is honored by comparisons to former Rossoneri hero Kaká and hopes he can achieve as much with the club as the Brazilian great.
The 21-year-old De Ketelaere was officially presented on Friday, shortly after completing a transfer of around 32 million euros ($32.5 million) from Club Brugge.
The talented playmaker has signed a five-year contract with the Serie A champion.
Kaká played for Milan from 2003-09 — and again in the 2013-14 season — helping it to the Champions League trophy in 2007, when he was also the competition’s top goalscorer.
He also won the World Cup as well as the Ballon d’Or and FIFA player of the year.
“I have seen many videos of Kaká, he was a fantastic player,” De Ketelaere said. “I have my own characteristics, but I hope to give a similar contribution to what he did.
“Milan has a great history and traditions, many legends have played here, but I think it is right to focus on the future, as the club is doing.”
Milan’s focus on the future can be seen in the abundance of young players in its squad.
It was Milan’s blend of youth and experience that helped to end its 11-year wait for the title, and De Ketelaere said that played a significant role in his decision to join.
“For me it was important to see young players grow and do well here,” the Belgium international said. “You see in the recent past that the young players become better here and they make the team better, so it was good to see that, and it made, for sure, a huge difference in choosing.
“The squad has been strengthened by giving space and opportunities to promising young players and I, too, hope to have my opportunity here.”
Milan has not won the Champions League since Kaká’s time and returned to the competition only last year after a lengthy absence. But its return was brief as the Rossoneri went out in the group stage, winning just one match.
“Doing well in the Champions League is one of the aims of this team,” De Ketelaere said. “It won’t be easy but we will give our all to get through the group stage and be competitive in the knockout stages.”