Jarrad Branthwaite is an English centre-back currently contracted to Premier League side Everton, but his impressive form has been attracting the attention of Manchester United with the Toffees hopeful of securing a fee of around £50million.
TEAMtalk revealed on Monday that Man United are looking at Everton duo Jarrad Branthwaite and Amadou Onana and could be required to pay combined fee of £110m for the Toffees stars.
In a subsequent update on Thursday, we confirmed Branthwaite has been installed as United’s No 1 defensive target if buying from within the Premier League.
The 21-year-old has impressed as the left-sided centre-back alongside the more experienced James Tarkowski and Everton have gradually been improving under Sean Dyche.
The Toffees sat in 14th place before the recent international break but have been deducted 10 points, which demotes them down to 19th place, level on points with Burnley.
The three promoted sides have struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League this season and Everton will hope that can continue as they look to stave off another season of relegation worries. Branthwaite’s excellent form at the back will be crucial to those efforts.
Branthwaite’s career so far
The towering centre-back is a product of Carlisle United’s youth system where he had spent his entire career up to that point. He went on to appear in League Two nine times for his boyhood club before making the switch to Merseyside in January 2020.
He signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Toffees running until the summer of 2022. He made his debut for the club as a substitute in July 2020 in a 3-0 away loss to Wolves and was a substitute again for the following game, this time in the 16th minute to replace the injured Mason Holgate.
He made his full debut for the club on July 20, eight days after his initial debut, away at Sheffield United. Everton won 1-0 and he was named man of the match after partnering Michael Keane at the back.
In the 2020/21 season, Branthwaite struggled for game time, resulting in a January loan move to Championship side Blackburn Rovers. He went on to start ten times before an ankle injury in training ended his season prematurely.
In the 2021/22 season, he again struggled for game time despite Everton’s poor form and was limited to only 387 minutes in the Premier League that year.
The following season, Branthwaite made the switch to The Netherlands for the year, joining PSV Eindhoven.
His time abroad was a roaring success, with Branthwaite appearing 37 times in total and forming a water-tight partnership with the Brazilian Andre Ramalho. PSV finished runners-up to Feyenoord in the Eredivisie and beat Ajax in the final of the Dutch Cup.
He has also appeared for England’s U20 and U21 teams and was a part of the squad that won the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
What is Branthwaite like as a player?
Standing at 1.95m (6ft 5in), Branthwaite is an imposing figure at the back. Despite his height, he is certainly not slow and is more than capable of winning a foot race against plenty of attackers.
He is fairly aggressive and is able to step out of the defence and intercept any passes made into the forward areas. His pace and strength twinned with his anticipation and good reading of the game enable him to be successful more often than not in this area.
These abilities also allow Branthwaite to be a constant threat from set-piece scenarios in both boxes. He scored three goals from set-piece situations for PSV, as well as one for Everton away at Chelsea before being loaned out.
He is adept at using either foot, which helps him play on either side of the defence depending on his partner’s preferred foot, although he has primarily played on the left-hand side for the majority of his career so far.
His long limbs mean that opposition players are not able to get past him very easily, as he can stretch and intercept the ball from further away than most.
Where will Branthwaite go?
Branthwaite signed a contract extension at Everton in October 2023 until the summer of 2027, so will not come cheap.
Man Utd have been the team that has been most prevalently linked with the centre-back and it is clear to see why, given their defensive woes the past few years.
This season has seen Harry Maguire (who had been stripped of the captaincy in the summer of this year), 35-year-old Jonny Evans (who joined for free from relegated Leicester), Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane all compete for places in the Red Devils’ back line, with a lack of consistency in availability among them frustrating manager Erik ten Hag.
Transfermarkt currently values Branthwaite at around €18m (£15.65m), though it is unlikely that Everton will want to part with their young defender for anything less the £50m they rate him at.
Everton’s uncertain off-field situations mean they will be in no mood to sell one of their key performers for anything they consider to be less than what he is worth.
It remains to be seen whether they can avoid the drop for another season of flirting with the relegation places.