Burnley are prepared to risk losing Michael Keane for nothing when his contract ends in 2018 rather than sell him for a cut-price fee at the end of this season.
The Clarets are already anticipating summer interest in their 24-year-old defender, who was last week nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year accolade following a stellar campaign where he has also broken into Gareth Southgate’s England team.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche has rubbished a report that Keane’s departure this summer has already been determined, though as one of the country’s top young centre-backs he is unlikely to be short of admirers.
Everton, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham have all been credited with an interest, as have Manchester United, and the Daily Express claims the Red Devils negotiated a buy-back option in the deal which took Keane from Old Trafford to Turf Moor in 2015.
The paper quotes a source close to Keane saying he “would jump at the chance” to return to United.
That clause, however, could be useless if Burnley choose to allow Keane to run down his current contract, rather than cash in this summer.
Dyche is quite willing to keep the centre-half for another season and lose him for free next year.
Asked if Burnley would be willing to let him run his deal down, he replied: “Absolutely, we’re in a great position, if that came around. We’re in a stronger position now.
“That’s where the club has changed. It would have to be appropriate for all parties, and all parties are in the loop. There’s no story, when everyone reads it they’ll all say, ‘That’s exactly what we’ve been told’.
“I’m open and honest with the players. We’ll look at it and speak to the relevant people – if it doesn’t fit, crack on.”