One of Manchester United’s youth products has believed that he’s proven that the club made the wrong decision by selling him to Burnley back in January 2015
23-year-old defender Michael Keane has become an integral first team player at Burnley. The Irishman is a product of the Manchester United youth academy, signing his first professional contract at the club.
On the eve of his return to Old Tafford, Keane believes that he has silenced all his doubters at his former club.
“It’s nice to hear that some fans wish I was still there,” Keane said in an interview with the Telegraph.
“When I left United, that was one of the things I had in my mindset – I wanted to prove them wrong, prove that I was good enough to play earlier. That is the sort of stuff that drives me every day.
“With all the help I’ve had here at Burnley, I think that is what I have done. I definitely don’t regret leaving but, at the same time, I think had I stayed it could have been different.
Although Keane did have mixed feeling about leaving United, he believes the decision has worked out to be a good one for his career trajectory,
“Had I had the option I probably would have stayed and tried my luck but I think leaving has been the best thing for me. Regular games have helped and hopefully when I go back on Saturday I can put in a good performance,” he said.
Manchester United could do with someone of the caliber of Keane in their central defence right now. Their best center-back of the season in Eric Bailly has been ruled out for two months, joining Englishman Phil Jones on the injury list.
Dutchman Daley Blind has transitioned from midfielder to defender and is playing well in his new position. However, Chris Smalling has had a dip in form this season, and is showing some worrying signs. Keane would have been the perfect solution to the problems at the club right now.
The 23-year-old has been rock solid for the Clarets since joining them. He is an integral part of the team that won promotion last season, and have pulled off impressive wins against Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League this time around.
Reigning champions Leicester City reportedly had a £15 million bid for the player rejected over the summer. Chelsea have now emerged as an interested party, with the Blues rumored to be readying a £25 million bid in January.
Manchester United have already been down this road before. Paul Pogba left for Juventus in 2012 and developed into one of the most highly rated young footballers in the world. The Frenchman returned to Old Trafford this summer for a world record transfer fee, as his former club were forced to pay a huge price for their mistake in letting him go.
Pogba is the same age as Keane, and the pair even won the FA Youth Cup together back in 2011. The Irish center-back may not have garnered the same critical appraisal as Pogba, but he has developed into one of the top central defenders in the league.
The interest from Chelsea, and even reportedly Liverpool and Arsenal, shows just how high Keane’s stock has risen. In the end this is yet another case of the one that got away for Manchester United and belies a disturbing trend in the club youth system.