Scout Report: Michael Keane
Name: Michael Keane
Current Club: Burnley
It’s no secret where Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool Football Club must upgrade this summer. There’s a dire need for an additional central midfielder. With Daniel Sturridge surely off in the summer, an out and out striker also should be a top priority. The Reds are also thin in the defensive midfield department with the injury bug biting Jordan Henderson once again, leaving just Gini Wijnaldum and Emre Can to mop up.
These are all crucial needs that must be addressed, however one area should supercede all of these – the back line – more specifically center-back. Joel Matip has proven to be a dependable option moving forward and can be hailed as a massive success in the transfer market in 2016.
The problem is, and has been, who will partner with Matip to turn that defense into a legitimate, title-winning side? Dejan Lovren has shown glimpses of quality, but is far too inconsistent while newcomer Ragnar Klavan is simply an option off the bench.
With all of the wild claims and links the papers are sure to conjure up, one player that has been a widely reported target of Liverpool is Burnley defender Michael Keane.
Michael Keane, a Stockport native, is a current staple in the Burnley defense. Prior to joining The Clarets, Keane was with Manchester United from 2011 – 2015. Although the defender was on the books at Old Trafford, he only made five career appearances for the Red Devils. During his four year tenure at the club, Keane went out on loan four times – including Leicester City, Derby County, Blackburn and Burnley before finally inking a permanent move to Turf Moor in January of 2015.
Since being at Burnley permanently, Keane has morphed into a very solid defender while helping The Clarets gain promotion back to the Premier League in 2016. During his time at Burnley, Keane has become strong and dependable. In just under three seasons at Turf Moor, the defender has made 94 total appearances – including 29 Premier League appearances already this season. He has also been good for the odd goal as he has gone on to score seven times, including five goals in the crucial push for promotion in 2015-16.
Internationally, Keane has received call-ups from both Ireland and England. The Stockport native made four total appearances for Ireland U17 & U19 before making the leap to the Three Lions. Keane has made 16 appearances with the England U21 side and earned his first senior call-up in October of 2016 at the age of 23.
His style of play can be considered rather old school – a no nonsense central defender. He is quite big in stature, standing 6’2” and proves to have proper strength. One of his biggest strengths is his ability to win aerial duels. This season, Keane is averaging 4.2 aerial duels won per game compared to Dejan Lovren who comes in at 3.3 per game, Joel Matip who tallies 2.3 per game and Ragnar Klavan who sits well behind Keane at 1.9 per game. Keane also has a good instinct for the ball. He edges Matip, Lovren and Klavan in interceptions per game with 1.9 while Lovren, Matip and Klavan come in at 1.7, 1.5 and 0.9 per game respectively.
On the ball, Keane is decent, as well. He displays a calm demeanor and provides decent outlet passes to the midfielders moving forward.
With the massive issue Liverpool have at the center-back position, I’m not sure I’d focus too much on bringing in Michael Keane this summer. The 24 year-old has shown the potential to become a good defender in England’s top flight, however I’m not convinced he is the quality center back that will take our defense to the next level – a title winning level.
Although £10m-11m doesn’t seem like too much in this day and age, that money should be invested into a player who can step in right away, not miss a beat and immediately improve that defense. Would the Burnley man be a solid squad addition? Sure. However, with Champions League (hopefully) on the horizon, our sights should be aimed higher than Keane to take over the starting role. Although he is a fine central defender, I’m not sure if people will be sold on the proposition of him being the long-term solution to the clubs’ current defensive problem.
Written By: Michael Pietrzak