A little more than a year ago, following a successful loan spell at Turf Moor, Manchester United sold defender Michael Keane to Burnley in a £2.5M deal that few beyond fans of the two clubs took note of. Now, the 23-year-old Keane is being linked heavily to both Chelsea and Liverpool in the press, promising a payday for Burnley and a chance for United to regret the one that got away.
According to the Mirror, after being linked with Leicester City over the summer—there were even reports of a £17M bid being rejected at the time—Chelsea and Liverpool are both now in the running. They speculate that a bid of around £30M in January for the young English defender could be in the offing, and if so that it might be enough to convince Burnley to sell.
If true, it’s certainly a steep price for a defender that wasn’t on anybody’s radar in 2015 when he moved to Burnley from United in that £2.5M permanent deal. And while it’s a price both Chelsea and Liverpool could certainly afford to pay, it’s more than fair to ask if the player is actually worth anything like that much. Especially for Liverpool.
Chelsea have had a few high profile misses when it comes to defenders in the transfer market of late, and the Londoners had to resort to bringing David Luiz back in over the summer. With John Terry not getting any younger, there’s certainly a need for them to bring in a defender for the future. Keane, who plays centre half and right back, might fit the bill.
For Liverpool, the need isn’t so obvious, and despite a promising run at Burnley and a growing reputation, there isn’t room right now in the starting lineup at Liverpool for him. If manager Jürgen Klopp sees Jöel Matip and Dejan Lovren as a pairing that could start together for the next five years, paying the English premium for Keane wouldn’t make sense.
If there are any doubts in them, or in Ragnar Klavan’s suitability as third centre half, then the math would change. Right now, though, there’s more than a hint of a smaller club—in this case Burnley—trying to leverage their position in order to earn a massive payday for a solid and promising young English player.