Everton defender Michael Keane is showing signs of becoming the player the Toffees imagined him to be.

Keane joined the club last summer from Burnley in a deal worth £25 million, rising to £30 million.

It was a big sum, and the pressure was on from the off for the defender to prove then-manager Ronald Koeman was right to sanction the deal.

 

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

It turned out to be a rocky season for Keane. The former Manchester United player struggled to build up any kind of consistency.

This term, Keane has shown signs of improvement.

The defender fractured his skull against Bournemouth in a collision with teammate Idrissa Gueye, but only missed two games against Huddersfield Town and West Ham before returning.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

His performances either side of the injury have been solid, and there is perhaps an underlying reason for that.

Keane is playing better without Williams

Keane appears to be more solid with Ashley Williams away from proceedings.

The former Swansea City man is currently out on loan at Stoke City, and Keane looks to be benefitting massively.

Williams has struggled at the club since joining in 2016.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

He has never really convinced, showing signs of sloppiness time and time again in the Toffees backline.

Keane and Williams would often be criticised as a pairing, but Williams was usually the main offender for making defensive mistakes.

 

Alongside Kurt Zouma, Keane appears more comfortable and polished, and there’s every chance he can be a big player in his second season at Goodison Park.