Michael Keane is destined to enjoy a “fabulous career”, says Everton legend Dave Watson, with there more to come from a defender already sparking talk of interest from Arsenal.
Fierce competition for places at Old Trafford forced him to look elsewhere for regular game time, with a spell at Burnley helping to raise his profile.
A return to United has been mooted since then, but a £25 million ($32m) move took him to Everton in the summer of 2017.
The odd dip has been endured by the 26-year-old during his time on Merseyside, but he is now an established member of the Three Lions and a player registering on the radar of other clubs.
Toffees icon Watson has told Everton’s official website of Keane: “Michael has done very well this season, he is taking on the responsibility of being the main man in the middle of Everton’s back four.
“That is a big change for any defender, rather than looking for help from someone next to you, it becomes your job to guide players.
“He is gaining experience and will become an even better player with more international matches.
“I think he has been great this season and I am sure there is a lot more to come from him.
“And with the confidence he’s gained recently, he will feel the same.”
Watson believes Keane has many more years at the top ahead of him, with it no surprise to see a player of such potential attracting admiring glances from afar.
Everton’s 1995 FA Cup-winning captain added on a star of the present: “You have to be able to play at centre-back.
“At one time, you could head it and kick it and that was enough. These days, with goalkeepers playing from the back, centre-halves are expected to be able to deal with the ball.
“In that position, you have a picture of the entire pitch in front of you, you see everything that is happening.
“It is not often you need tremendous pace unless you are playing with a high line, which not many teams do these days.
“As you mature, you become wiser and learn from all your experiences.
“Michael will play until he is 34 or 35 at least, all being well, so he still has a fabulous career ahead.
“And having another taster of the England set-up will give him an extra lift and add to his learning.”