By Alex Stevens
Everton are in pole position to sign Burnley centre-back Michael Keane in the summer, according to a report.
Sports site Bleacher Report claim the Merseysiders have leapfrogged Chelsea and Manchester United in the pursuit of the defender.
It is said that it is “likely” Keane will complete a high profile transfer to Everton in the summer transfer window.
Bleacher Report do not state how much Everton are willing to pay to land the 24-year-old but the Sun have reported that it will take £20million to land the proven Premier League performer.
Keane has been linked with a move to Chelsea as well as a return to United, where he started his career before joining Burnley two years ago.
But the player and his representatives reportedly feel he would be better served by a move to an ambitious Premier League club where he is guaranteed regular first-team football and can develop his game.
Everton are also said to be keeping a close eye on Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk but Keane is regarded as a more realistic and affordable option.
Keane’s stock has risen considerably since the start of the season, having twice been called up to England squads by Gareth Southgate.
Keane started his career at United but has risen to the threshold of international football at Burnley, who he joined from Old Trafford initially on a half-season loan before completing a permanent transfer in January 2015.
The centre-back has been ever-present for Burnley in the Premier League this season, starting all 25 of their matches in the competition.
Everton are seventh in the Premier League after a run of impressive results and return to action when they host Sunderland at Goodison Park at the weekend after a two-week break.
In other Everton transfer news, the club have agreed the terms of an out-of-window striker transfer.