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Keane eyes return in bid to stay sharp for Euro assault

WHEN the transfer window opens, Robbie Keane smells fresh air. It wouldn't be a normal January without the Irish skipper in the headlines.

The 31-year-old could be on his way back to the Premier League with Aston Villa on a two-month deal, and the suggestion that LA Galaxy are ready to begin discussions has alerted other suitors, with Celtic keen on temporarily bringing the Dubliner to Scotland for a second visit.

Keane has made a variety of moves in his career but, in this instance, it is a case of following a path that others have travelled.

When he moved to the MLS last August, it is understood that Galaxy were reluctant to bring in another big-money recruit who spends his winter overseas. David Beckham's high-profile stints with Milan were interpreted as a lack of respect for his employers.

So, when Keane (pictured) was asked in November if he would be looking for a two-month stint back in England, he dismissed the notion out of hand. He suggested that a good break over the winter would aid the long-term process of preparing for summer's European Championships.

The logic was that he would be fresher coming into the tournament than Irish colleagues coming off the back of a 50-game plus season. But the flip side to that argument is that generous American defences would provide limited preparation for the massive tests that lie ahead in Poznan and Gdansk.

Now Galaxy appear to be a tad more flexible, perhaps buoyed by the success of lifting the MLS Cup in November. They have subsequently allowed Landon Donovan to link up with Everton for January and February.

Beckham now looks like signing a new contract with Galaxy rather than moving to Paris St-Germain.

In terms of finance, Villa and Galaxy would have to agree a loan fee for Keane, an insurance agreement, and an arrangement on how much of his €44,000-a-week wage is paid by the Birmingham outfit -- they could well pay 100pc plus bonuses.

He has enjoyed a decent rest since the Asian tour that followed Galaxy's trophy-winning exploits. Keane has spent some of the festive period in this part of the world.

Former club Tottenham have allowed Keane to join them in training until January 20. A return to Spurs is out of the question, but it's another example of a high-profile player getting a chance to remind people of his existence while working on his fitness.

In the last week, Thierry Henry has secured an emotional loan move from New York Red Bulls to Arsenal on the back of his training-ground attitude. When other players from his league are doing it then it's natural that Keane should be curious.

Some US commentators feel it's a positive for the MLS that the marquee names can pop up on a bigger stage in the off-season.

Given that Keane's last Premier League experience was a poor stint at West Ham, he would like to end on a more positive note.

Ironically enough, he could have linked up with current Villa boss Alex McLeish at Birmingham last January, but opted for the Hammers.

They could be working together by next week unless there is another twist in the colourful career of Ireland's record goalscorer.

Irish Independent