It is not an easy feat for centre-backs to catch the imagination in a world of football dominated by goals and skills – 2 things you don’t get to associate with defenders often, so when one comes under the spotlight in a league like the EPL’s, rapt and utmost attention is paid.
Burnley defender Michael Keane, has been in sublime form at the back for the former Championship side since the season started, and is already attracting a couple of big sides ahead of the coming transfer windows.
Chelsea are said to be interested in luring the 23-year-old to the Stamford Bridge, while his youth club Manchester United, are also keen on having him back, with Keane’s solid performances catching every scout’s attention.
After 11 rounds of Premier League games, no player has blocked more shots (21) than Michael Keane, and he has recently earned a call-up to the Three Lions on the back of his brilliant displays.
But should Keane be considered a top quality player who will be able to perform on a consistent level this term and the ones to come? Or will he flatter to deceive and turn out to be a one-season wonder eventually?
Since leaving Old Trafford on a permanent basis at the beginning of the 2014–15 term following 3 seasons on loan at 3 different Championship clubs, the 23-year-old’s development has steadily undergone swift growth, and it is no magic that he is slowly becoming a defensive force to reckon with in the EPL.
Keane establishing himself as one of the finest English central halves on the scene is a long time coming. Since graduating from Manchester United’s youth Academy and signing his first professional deal in 2011, the 6 ft 3 in defender has gone from strength to strength.
The 2012 Manchester United’s Reserve Player of the Year has cut his teeth as far as development goes, and his current performances are as a result of years of hard work and dedication to the craft. It won’t be a one-off achievement as it is actually the beginning of a great career that lies ahead of him.
Keane’s promising career fully kicked off 2 seasons ago when he switched the Theater of Dreams for Turf Moor. He proved his worth to Sean Dyche, and slowly established himself as a regular starter within The Clarets’ ranks.
In 21 EPL appearances, he averaged 11 defensive actions per game, won 16 out of his 30 tackles and 77 of his 107 contested duels. However, they weren’t enough to see Burnley stave off relegation at the end of the season.
But he was a solid presence at the back while the club blew Championship sides away last season to emerge winners, earning an instant promotion back to the top-flight at the end.
This season, Keane has averaged 14 defensive actions per game, won 7 of his 13 tackles, and 32 of his 52 duels. Not only has he been solid at the back, helping Burnley keep 3 clean sheets and to an enviable 9th place on the log, he has also contributed at the other end with a goal and 3 chances.
The numbers are incredible, and Keane sure continues to prove he isn’t a one-season wonder in the making but a top quality defender. He will most probably continue to prove his quality for the next one decade.