Kean Bryan: Things to know about the versatile Sheffield United star

Kean Bryan has had to bide his time at Sheffield United, having joined the club back in the summer of 2018.

He watched from afar as the Blades earned promotion to the Premier League and enjoyed a stellar first season back in the big time - before finally being thrown into the thick of first team action as Chris Wilder's side suffered from the most severe bout of 'second season syndrome' the top flight has ever seen.

In what's been a bleak campaign for the Blades, Bryan was instrumental in providing a rare moment of joy, popping up with a goal and a superb performance in their shock 2-1 win over Manchester United.

So just who is Kean Bryan? Here's everything you need to know about the Sheffield United man in focus.

1. He's a Manchester City academy product

Bryan came through the City academy | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Bryan joined the Manchester City academy as an 11-year-old and rose through the ranks with the Citizens, having grown up around the corner from their training complex.

He was part of the City side that reached the 2015 FA Youth Cup final, before ultimately losing to Chelsea over two legs.

Bryan's teammates at youth level included Leicester's Kelechi Iheanacho, Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo, RB Leipzig loanie Angelino and former Swansea winger Bersant Celina.

2. The North West? Completed it, mate

Bryan has played for three Greater Manchester EFL sides | Pete Norton/Getty Images

As a product of an English footballing giant's youth system, Bryan is unsurprisingly no stranger to a loan move.

The 24-year-old has been shipped out on loan on three occasions - twice while at City and once while at Sheffield United. However, each of his separate loan moves have come within a 25 mile radius of one another.

When it comes to moving out on loan, Bryan cannot keep away from the north west - and Greater Manchester to be completely precise. First it was Bury, then Oldham and finally Bolton.

The Sheffield United man just needs to ply his trade at Wigan, Salford and Rochdale (although he was sent off against Dale in 2016 so maybe the bridges there have been burnt) and he'll have featured for every EFL side in Greater Manchester.

3. He was a hit at Oldham

Of his three loan spells, Bryan's season at Boundary Park in 2017/18 was particularly fruitful - despite the club's relegation from League One.

He made 37 appearances for the Latics and was voted the club's young player of the season.

Bryan also found the net twice for Oldham - home and away against Fleetwood - and both goals were absolute screamers. He bent in a stunner from the edge of the box in their 2-2 draw in September, before finding the top corner with a fabulous free kick during his side's 2-1 loss in December. Both goals were nominated for Oldham's goal of the season award.

4. Steven Gerrard is a fan

Gerrard targeted Bryan in 2018 | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Sheffield United were considered to have landed a real coup when they snapped up Bryan on a free transfer in 2018.

They beat Rangers to his signature, and the Scottish giants had initially been considered the front runners to land the youngster, with boss Steven Gerrard impressed by his performances for Oldham the previous season.

The move failed to materialise and Bryan instead joined the Blades, missing out on the opportunity to work with one of his footballing idols.

Talking about his admiration for the former Liverpool captain in 2015, Bryan said (via the Sun): "Not because of his football side - I wouldn't say I'm the same player as him - but it's the heart for the game and the heart for your club."

5. He's had to be patient at Sheffield United

Bryan didn't make his league debut for Sheffield United until November 2020 | TIM KEETON/Getty Images

Bryan has really had to bide his time at Sheffield United, finding himself behind Jack O'Connell in the Bramall Lane pecking order. It took 27 months for the former Manchester City man to make his league debut for the club.

He spent most of their promotion winning campaign sidelined through injury, and with Sheffield United flying high in the Premier League during the 2019/20 season, Bryan was shipped out on loan to Bolton in January. In contrast, the Trotters were languishing in the League One relegation zone, a hefty points deduction weighing them down amid a myriad of financial woes as they tumbled towards the fourth tier.

"It was a tough time, I won't shy away from that," Bryan told the Star in December 2020.

"When I signed here I expected to play in the Championship, so it was gutting for me. I had to go out on loan to play games and no disrespect to Bolton Wanderers, but it's not the level I see myself playing."

The absence of O'Connell, Ethan Ampadu and Enda Stevens eventually cleared Bryan's route to the Sheffield United first team, and he was thrust into the starting XI for the Blades' clash with West Brom in November 2020.

6. He's versatile

Bryan can play across the back four and in midfield | Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Bryan offers a real versatility. He progressed through the Manchester City ranks as a box-to-box midfielder, before being converted to a centre half late in his teenage years.

The defender featured as both a centre back and defensive midfielder during his time at Oldham and Bolton, and was deployed as a left sided centre half during his first couple of top flight appearances for Sheffield United. Playing in the sitting midfield role really allows him to show off his range of passing.

However, against Manchester United, Wilder opted to play Bryan as a left wing back - a position he played to great effect.

7. He doesn't watch Coronation Street

Bryan has a child with long term partner and Coronation street actress Brooke Vincent. However, in an interview with Footy 258, Bryan admitted the pair don't actually watch the soap.

Bryan dedicated his first Premier League goal to their son, and David Flitcroft - who managed Bryan at Bury and Bolton - told the Athletic that fatherhood and family were a big motivating factor for the defender.

“I spoke to Kean quite a bit about making the family proud," said Flitcroft. "I am pretty sure making his Premier League debut will have done that.”

Source : 90min