Despite being a product of the Manchester United youth system, Everton defender Michael Keane chose to not return to Old Trafford during this summer’s transfer window.
Speaking to the Times’ Paul Joyce, Keane spoke about not being a fan of the Red Devils like he used to be, and wanting more playing time.
“They [United] were in touch with my agent and showed a lot of interest. They wanted me, but a few things happened and I thought Everton would be the best place for me to come. I thought I would get a lot of game time here, more than I possibly would at Manchester United, and that was a massive factor in my decision.
“To be honest, having been at Burnley for three years, I wasn’t a fan of the club like I used to be. I wasn’t as big a fan of Man United as I had been, so I had to sort of put that to one side and just think rationally about what would be best for me as a footballer.
“My family are all Man United fans so it was not an easy decision. My dad would have been delighted if I had signed for United. But he is glad I have come to Everton and not Liverpool, put it that way.”
When asked if he would come to question that choice, considering United are in the Champions League, the 24-year-old was defiant that he had made the best decision for himself, especially in a World Cup year.
“Of course [people will question it]. United are one of the biggest clubs in the world and it is not an easy decision to make.
“I thought about it all throughout the summer and a bit longer. I spoke to my family, friends, agent, I got advice from people I used to work with at United. Loads of different people.
“In the end, I came to the decision of joining Everton and I am thankful I did that because it is going to be the best thing for me in the long run.
“We have had games where we’ve played well and a few games where it hasn’t gone so well. But I am young and learning and that is going to be good for me. While they [defeats] are not enjoyable, you go through them and learn and it will make me a better player.”
The towering defender is an ambassador this season for Everton in the Community, the Club’s award-winning charity, and the work he has done there has made a strong impression on him.
“It is something that I will look to do myself in the next few years. I saw at Burnley, with Danny Ings setting up a disability project, just how well that has taken off. It must be really rewarding to see the work that goes on if you are really, really involved.
“Just doing these visits to schools every month or so gives us a buzz as well. I can remember what I was like when I was seven or eight years old and, if I was at a school and a Premier League footballer came to it, then that would make my week.”
Considering he chose to work under Koeman over Jose Mourinho, how has that experience been so far?
“He has pulled me into the office a few times, given me advice and tips. He has all the experience in the world and was one of the best centre halves ever and so you listen to him.
“It can be just talking or on a video screen or tactics board. It depends what the point is he is trying to make.
“There is a different style of play coming to Everton from Burnley. Say I was playing for Burnley, and then England the next week, you go from playing more direct football to passing football. It is not easy.
“Playing for Everton will help me with the consistency. Doing it in training every day, the more you do things, the better you become. It is as simple as that. I have always been comfortable in possession of the ball but, first and foremost, I have to be a good defender. But I don’t see why you have to be either a good defender or good on the ball. There is no reason why you cannot be both and that is my aim.
“Sean Dyche was a more defensive centre half and has brought that side out of my career. Now Ronald Koeman was a more attacking centre half, so [now there will be] more passing out from the back. If you mix the two, you will have a good centre half, so hopefully I can learn a lot more.”
Keane has undoubtedly been one of the better players for the Blues in this young season, and the Club and fans will be hoping to see him go from strength to strength over the year.