Michael Keane has revealed that Everton manager Marco Silva has told the England international to be more forthcoming with his defensive impact and not shy away from being aggressive, as told to the Toffees’ official website.
The 26-year-old is currently with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad as they prepare for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo, with Keane looking to secure his eighth senior cap (TransferMarkt) having been an unused substitute in this summer’s UEFA Nations League Finals.
Keane has been a mainstay of the Everton line-up since joining from Burnley for a reported £30m (BBC) in 2017, which tied the Toffees’ club-record outlay at the time, after concluding a deal with Sunderland for Jordan Pickford that amounted to the same potential end sum.
His first year at Goodison Park was a difficult spell, though, and the Manchester-born centre-half later revealed that he became reluctant to leave his house due to the struggles the Merseyside club endured as they changed between Ronald Koeman, interim head coach David Unsworth and one-game England boss Sam Allardyce.
Silva’s arrival on the blue half of Stanley Park sparked a resurgence for the 6 ft 1 ace though, and the Portuguese head coach later hailed his defensive unit for helping to take the scalps of Chelsea and Arsenal last season.
But the Blues boss is still searching for gains from Keane, and having recently declared a desire to see the 26-year-old improve his work on the ball, has tasked the Manchester United youth product with being more forthcoming with his impact and not be afraid to get aggressive in search of winning possession.
“That is something I have been spoken to about and want to work on,” Keane said. “I want to get in people’s faces a bit more – at the right time.
“You can’t do it all the time, because the forward might pick you off and play one-twos around you. You have to be careful and choose the times when you can do it.
“I think it gives the team a big boost if the ball comes back to the halfway line and one of the centre-halves can get tight, win it and set us on the counter.”
But what the former Clarets ace must do first is increase the volume of tackles he is producing, as Keane is currently averaging one tackle a game in the top-flight after recording 54 in 33 Premier League fixtures last term, according to data collected by WhoScored, which shows his trepidation to be aggressive in winning possession frequently.
His interceptions are not grand, either, with Keane boasting six after the first four league games of the campaign and 43 in 2018/19, but he is now without Idrissa Gana Gueye sweeping the lines ahead of him, who ended last season as Everton’s leading tackler (142 from 180 attempts) and in terms of interceptions (74) and blocking passes (44).
So Keane developing his game to be able to make an impact higher up the field could certainly prove beneficial for Everton when playing at home, as they could profit from a high line of defence and start counter-attacks much sooner than if they are consistently beginning moves from the edge of their box.
Everton fans, are you confident Keane has the ability to be the centre-back Silva is after? Let us know in the comments below…
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