Michael Keane missed Everton’s 2-1 win against Bournemouth on Saturday with a foot injury but perhaps a weekend away from the spotlight will do him good long term. The centre-back has endured a difficult couple of weeks with Everton losing four consecutive games with an aggregate score of 12-0 prior to Saturday's redemptive victory.
And the former Burnley defender, who cost The Toffees £30 million this summer (BBC), has been under the microscope for all the wrong reasons as he struggled to justify his hefty price-tag with a series of shaky performances in Ronald Koeman’s back three.
Meanwhile, another talented centre-half who was linked with a big money move to Goodison Park this summer is only enhancing his reputation as one of England’s most promising youngsters. The Liverpool Echo reported in June that Everton wanted an up-and-coming centre-half to lead their defence for years to come and had targeted both Keane and Hull City’s Harry Maguire.
In the end, while Keane moved to Everton for big money, Leicester City looked to have pulled of a real coup landing Maguire for a comparatively meagre fee of £17 million (The Mail). And although Leicester have not kept a Premier League clean sheet since their comfortable 2-0 home win over Brighton in August, you won’t find many pundits questioning the logic of Maguire’s price tag.
He has put in superb performances in defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United while also impressing against Liverpool on Saturday despite The Foxes going down to a 3-2 home defeat.
And Maguire certainly looks a more complete, modern defender than Keane. He is renowned for his ability to stride out from the back like a young Lucio while his ball distribution has also earned rave reviews. Keane, by comparison, was questioned by Koeman for giving the ball away aimlessly in their 3-0 Europa League humbling by Atalanta.
“Michael Keane is normally our best centre-back in our ball possession. Maybe now he has doubts in his football,” he said in quotes reported by The Guardian.
It is far too early to make snap judgements but the initial signs are that Maguire, for £13 million cheaper, might have been a better fit for Koeman’s Everton.