Michael Keane could well be one of the unluckiest players Manchester United have had for quite some time.
The centre-back completed his permanent move to Burnley last week having previously been at Turf Moor on loan. But had circumstances been slightly different, the 21-year-old could have been turning out regularly for Louis van Gaal’s side.
Following the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, Keane was tipped for his breakthrough campaign at Old Trafford. However, van Gaal instead opted to send him on loan to Burnley, relying on three players he adopted and one he signed, in the form of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo.
At the time the loan move appeared to make sense, but then the injuries and suspensions started mounting up, until United were forced to call on 20-year-old Tyler Blackett and 19-year-old Paddy McNair.
The latter’s inclusion in particular was a surprise, and one wonders if the Northern Irishman would have featured had Keane been available.
United fans will never know for sure, but having waited so long for his chance at the club it is a horrible twist of fate that it would almost certainly have finally come had he not been elsewhere at the time.
Instead McNair and Blackett shone, to such an extent that van Gaal opted to sell Keane, safe in the knowledge that he has two young centre-backs capable of playing first-team football at Old Trafford for years to come.