England defender Michael Keane admits fears over his playing time saw him choose a move to Everton over a return to Manchester United during the summer transfer window. The 24-year-old was pursed by both clubs during the off-season but opted to move to Goodison Park, where he has become a mainstay of Ronald Koeman's defence.
Keane left Burnley for a deal which could rise to £31m [via The Guardian], signing a five-year deal with the Toffees. He has played every minute for the club this season and is expected to make his fifth Premier League start of the campaign when Everton travel to United on Sunday [17 September].
But Keane could have been preparing to line up for his former side United, had he opted to return to the 20-time English league champions. The Stockport-born centre-back was offered the chance return to the club he left for Turf Moor in 2015, but the arrival of Victor Lindelof from Benfica and stiff competition in Jose Mourinho's squad saw him opt for Everton.
"They [United] were in touch with my agent and showed a lot of interest," Keane told The Times. "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."
He added "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."