Newcastle: Havertz 2.0 in De Ketelaere

While Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe will primarily be focused on achieving short-term success between now and the end of the season, the 45-year-old will also have one eye on potential new additions who could be brought to St James’ Park this summer in order to allow the club to kick on even further next term.

Although the summer is still a few months away, it does appear that the Magpies have already begun to identify possible transfer targets, with recent reports in Italy suggesting that the Premier League high-flyers are interested in AC Milan‘s Charles De Ketelaere.

What’s the latest on De Ketelaere to Newcastle?

According to CalcioMercatoWeb, the Tynesiders are said to be among the favourites to sign the 21-year-old in the near future, with the Belgian facing an uncertain future at San Siro after failing to make an impact so far this season.

The report suggests that the former Club Brugge starlet – who arrived in Italy in a £27m deal last summer – could be available for around 30m (£27m) if Howe and PIF are to make an approach.

Has De Ketelaere been compared to Havertz?

The Serie A champions’ apparent willingness to sell youngster despite his relatively recent arrival comes amid a dismal past few months for De Ketelaere in his new surroundings, with the 11-cap playmaker having provided just a solitary assist and failed to score in all competitions for Stefano Pioli’s side.

Those woes were laid bare last month as the towering 6 foot 4 ace found himself on the receiving end of notable criticism from Milan legend Arrigo Sacchi, who provided a brutal assessment of the youngster’s current struggles.

The 76-year-old said of De Ketelaere: “Today he is a confused boy, we have to be patient. He is afraid to play, he enters with the anxiety of having to demonstrate his value. I hope he can bring out his qualities as soon as possible.

“He enters the field almost like a loser. He seems confused… scared. Now he is suffering. Let us remember that foreigners always need time.”

Read the latest Newcastle transfer rumours and news!

While a change of scenery may be what is needed for the Brugge native to truly flourish, it remains to be seen if the Premier League would be a suitable destination, particularly with De Ketelaere said to share characteristics with Chelsea’s Kai Havertz.

Described by team-mate Divock Origi as “half Havertz and half Kakà“, the £48k-per-week dynamo has himself spoken out about those comparisons to the Germany international, initially shutting down the apparent likeness, albeit while admitting that they do share a number of similar traits.

He stated last August: “As far as Havertz is concerned, we are not alike. Of course he too is tall and is a striker or attacking midfielder. He is left-footed, maybe in this we are alike.”

While that likeness to Havertz may appear something of a positive – with the former Bayer Leverkusen ace notably netting in the Blues’ Champions League final triumph in 2021 – the latter has somewhat underwhelmed at times during his spell at Stamford Bridge, hence the fear that De Ketelaere could also fail to make an impact under Howe.

The 23-year-old German – who is also 6 foot 4 and can operate on the flanks or in a central role – was notably criticised following the 4-0 defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup last month, with talkSPORT pundit Dean Ashton stating: “Havertz for me is so weak! He’s a big lad, he looks like he should have something about him but he’s got no aggression at all.”

Also branded “lazy” by BT Sport pundit Martin Keown earlier this season, Havertz has scored only 17 goals and provided just seven assists in 78 top-flight games for Chelsea to date, notably missing nine big chances in the league already so far this season.

The £71m addition has perhaps failed to truly justify that rather sizeable transfer fee, hence the fears that if Newcastle were to sign a similar player in the form of De Ketelaere, it could well lead to disappointment.