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The two clubs have confirmed the news that we’ve all been expecting for a while, that Michael Keane has left Burnley for Everton in a record breaking transfer deal for our club which is, as expected, undisclosed.

1516 burnley michael keane 00 630x420Keane has put pen to paper on a five year deal at Goodison Park and leaves Burnley after three years at Turf Moor. It was the inevitable conclusion given he only had a year remaining on his contract and the player was keen to move on. It was reported a year ago, amidst the speculation with Leicester, that he wouldn’t sign a new deal and so this window provided us with our last realistic opportunity to get a fee for him.

So it’s Everton. Michael Keane has been linked with so many clubs over the past year it has been difficult to keep up just who were favourites at any given time. For a while, at least, a return to Manchester United looked on the cards but there was a quick about turn, it was reported, when they signed Victor Lindelof from Benfica.

This story really started a year ago when there were constant links with Leicester who had just clinched the Premier League title. It might have seemed a good idea to want to move to the champions but Burnley ultimately did Keane, and themselves, a massive favour by turning down all the offers that came in. It meant he stayed at Turf Moor for another year, helping us to remain in the top flight and it also meant that we have been able to get a far bigger fee than Leicester were offering.

Steve Walsh was the man at Leicester who was so keen to get him signed a year ago and it is the same Steve Walsh who moved to Everton and has finally got his man, the first player to move from Turf Moor to Goodison Park since Trevor Steven in the summer of 1983 for a then record fee for Burnley of £300,000.

This is, therefore, not the first time the Toffees have come to Burnley and smashed our outgoing transfer record, it is not the second time either. Remember, this is the club who also signed Tommy Lawton, Harry Potts and Martin Dobson from Burnley.

I have to say I’m hugely disappointed to see Keane leave. I’m not disappointed with him for upping sticks because I think it is probably the right thing for him to do and I just hope he’s chosen the right grand old team to go and play for.

My disappointing is that we have lost arguably the best central defender we’ve had at Burnley for a lot of years and one, at the age of 24, who surely is only going to get better and better.

You wouldn’t have thought that if you’d been one of the few to see his first appearance in Burnley colours. Having signed on loan at the eleventh hour on transfer deadline day at the beginning of September 2014, it came in a Premier League Cup tie against Hull when, with just seven seconds of the game gone, his woefully poor back pass put goalkeeper Alex Cisak in trouble and led to the opening goal with Hull going on to win the game 2-0.

He had to wait for his chance in the first team and it came after Michael Duff suffered an injury in the 2-1 win at Stoke. Keane came on and did well and he retained his place in the team. Some good performances followed and the Burnley fans were pleased when, in January, his Turf Moor move was made permanent on a contract until the end of the 2017/18 season.

He played through until March before Duff was recalled and, the last game of the season at Aston Villa apart, he didn’t start again that season.

His big break probably came courtesy of captain Jason Shackell who engineered a move back to Derby in the summer of 2015. That move ensured that Keane and Duff would start the 2015/16 season as our central defensive partnership. Keane has not lost his place since. He got a new partner in December 2015 when Ben Mee moved from left-back as Duff’s playing career all but came to an end, but alongside either Duff or Mee, he has simply been outstanding for us.

He’s bagged a few goals too with none more important than the late, late equalisers at Brighton and in the home game against Middlesbrough as we moved ever closer to promotion.

One year on and he’s blossomed into an outstanding Premier League defender and I can’t imagine any Burnley supporter, although disappointed to see him go, will not be wishing him all the very best at Everton.

Had Sir Alex Ferguson been a bit younger, we might never have seen Keane at Burnley, that’s according to his former Manchester United coach Paul McGuinness. In a recent interview, he said: “Michael was part of a very good group with players like Ravel Morrison, Jesse Lingard and Ryan Tunnicliffe. He was always a little bit behind the others. He had to fight to cling on to their coat tails, if you like, but in a sense that was an advantage for him. It helped develop his determination and resilience.

“For some of the lads at the top of the group, including Michael’s brother, Will, everything just came naturally. Michael really had to work at it. He had to concentrate and try to improve, but if you’re working hard, you’re learning and you’re listening to your coaches, it all adds up. Every year he was gaining more than lads who might have been more talented but didn’t have those traits.”

McGuinness went on to explain that he wasn’t offered a scholarship at 16 because he was behind the other lads but put much of that down to him still growing. He did once describe Keane as being like Bambi on ice.

He played part time and paid himself to get his A levels while picking up no more than expenses from United. Ferguson, by then, had seen enough of him to realise the talent and ensured the club refunded his education costs and soon after gave him a debut.

Loans followed at Derby, Leicester and, dare we say it, Blackburn where he debuted for them on that historic day when we won 2-1 in March 2014 at Ewood Park, but by then Sean Dyche was keen and when Louis van Gaal failed to spot the talent, we made our move.

McGuinness said that Burnley was the fantastic finishing school he needed. “I’ve been in to watch them train,” he said. “Burnley under Sean Dyche is just a brilliant place for any young defender to learn the trade.

“He develops his team and the players. They do the basics, the fundamentals. That’s what Michael has got from him, getting the basics right every day, both physically and mentally.”

That development has seen Keane play 100 league games for the Clarets, in which he scored seven times. And during last season, in Dortmund, he became the first Burnley player to start a game at full international level for England since the aforementioned Dobson.

I don’t know how disappointed he was when the Leicester move fell through a year ago. He certainly didn’t show any in his performances for us last season when we continued to play with all the enthusiasm and dedication we’d seen from him before.

We’ll move on without him, we have to, just as we’ve done when our other best players have left us over the years.

I think I can say that we all wish him the very best at Goodison Park and I, for one, will be keeping an eye on how well he does and look forward to see him pulling on an England shirt in next year’s World Cup.

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