Michael Keane First in Line to Make Step Up at Manchester United This Summer

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentJuly 19, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea takes on Michael Keane of Manchester United during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Most Manchester United fans, most fans of any club, are always keen to see new arrivals, especially during the summer transfer window.

United fans, for example, would like their club to sign a new centre-back. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have gone. And they would like to see the gap filled by someone like Mats Hummels or Stefan De Vrij.

But there's at least one United fan who wouldn't mind if Hummels and De Vrij stayed put this summer. But then, Michael Keane isn't a normal United fan.

Keane, along with twin brother Will, has been at Old Trafford since he was 11 years old. 

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14:  Michael Keane of England celebrates after scoring during the 2015 UEFA European Under 21 Championships Qualifier Group 1 match between England and Finland at StadiumMK on November 14, 2013 in Milton Keynes, England.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

He made his debut in a Carling Cup game against Aldershot in October 2011. He's been on loan at Leicester, Derby and Blackburn and played 12 times for England's under-21s.

When Ryan Giggs threw James Wilson and Tom Lawrence into the first-team against Hull City at the end of last season, Keane was on the bench. The only step left is to make the jump to becoming a regular member of the squad.

SINGAPORE - MAY 15:  Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United attends a press conference on May 15, 2014 in Singapore.  (Photo by Nicky Loh/Getty Images)
Nicky Loh/Getty Images

It's unlikely Louis Van Gaal knows much about the 21-year-old from Stockport. But after naming him in the 25-man party to travel to the United States for the summer tour, the Dutchman is about to get a closer look.

Keane is highly-rated at Old Trafford. Not least by Rio Ferdinand, who singled him out when asked which young centre-back could possibly succeed him at United.

Keane has revealed in the past that Ferdinand was his idol growing up. And he told the FA.com last month that he's hoping to use this summer to prove he's good enough to replace the 35-year-old—at least in the long term.

I’ve heard the new manager likes to bring young players through and that’s always been the way at United.

Obviously with Giggsy staying on as his assistant that can only benefit the young players and hopefully we can get a good pre-season and a chance to prove ourselves.

When I was young I always had Rio Ferdinand on my back or t-shirts with Rio Ferdinand on.

Obviously when he first joined United he was my idol then and he still is. Luckily I managed to train with him for a few years. He’s had a big influence on me. 

He spoke to everyone and always gives you advice. If you make a mistake in a game, he’ll ring you and say what you should do better. 

United are still searching for a new centre-back this summer. 

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:  Danny Ings of Burnley controls the ball from Michael Keane of Blackburn Rovers during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley at Ewood Park on March 9, 2014 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by Jan
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

But that they flew off to America with only Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones at centre-back, means Keane will get the chance to impress Van Gaal.

United will play fewer games next season with no Champions League football. And perhaps another loan spell would be better for Keane's development than a season spent in the reserves.

But he has been given the opportunity to save Van Gaal a bit of money. Money that might yet be spent on Hummels, De Vrij or Thomas Vermaelen.

Not many United fans ever get to do that.