Belgian football could be approaching something of a watershed moment, with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar potentially representing the final chance for the nation’s so-called “Gold Generation” to win a major tournament.
Even if the Red Devils fail in their attempts to win in the Middle East, however, there’s a talented next generation of stars who will represent Belgium going forward.
One of these is Charles De Ketelaere, with the 21-year-old attacking midfielder already a prominent member of the squad with eight international caps. But is De Ketelaere the future of Belgian football?
Charles De Ketelaere – The Story so Far
De Ketelaere first joined Club Brugge at the age of seven, with the talented youngster also working as a ball boy during this time.
He emerged through the ranks in Belgium, making his senior debut on 25th September, 2019 against Francs Borains in the Belgian Cup.
Less than four weeks later, he made his UEFA Champions League debut against Paris Saint-Germain, playing for 57 minutes during a 5-0 loss. On 5th February 2020, De Ketelaere scored the winner in a 2-1 win against Zulte Waregem to reach the Belgian Cup final, although Brugge were unsuccessful in the final.
De Ketelaere’s breakthrough season came in 2021/22, when he scored 18 goals in 49 appearances from midfield and two in seven UCL matches. This form helped Brugge to secure a third straight Belgian title, while also earning him a move to Serie A champions AC Milan ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
What Does De Ketelaere Bring?
De Ketelaere is a truly modern footballer, and one whose skillset is tailormade to thrive when playing in-between the lines (either through the middle or from either flank).
He brings a valuable commodity for every side that he represents in this respect, as he retains an exceptional eye for goal and someone who’s as comfortable as finishing moves as he is creating chances.
He scored 26 goals in 120 games for Club Brugge, including 18 in just 49 outings during his final season. He’s already scored his first goal for his country too, striking in vein in a 2-1 defeat to Italy during a third place playoff in the 2020/21 Nations League.
De Ketelaere’s arrival in Italy should also strength to a midfield that has lost Franck Kessié to Barcelona, while his goal threat (alongside the arrival of Divock Origi on a free transfer from Liverpool) will also enhance Milan’s firepower as they look to defend their Serie A title.
The Last Word
Belgium are around 14/1 to end their major trophy drought in Qatar, with the bookies clearly believing that Roberto Martinez’s squad is slightly past its best.
Of course, you may still feel that this offers value as a proposition, especially if you’ve leveraged the BC Game Welcome Offer and want to place a free bet on the Red Devils. For most, however, it appears as though Belgium’s Golden Generation is drawing to a close, with this group of talented players expected to end their international careers empty-handed.
The future is bright with players like De Ketelaere, however, and it could be that Belgium’s next generation (which will be under considerably less scrutiny) is the one that ultimately achieves success.