Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

How Jarrad Branthwaite compares to Lisandro Martinez as Man Utd consider blockbuster bid

Ben Stewart
Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite and Man Utd's Lisandro Martinez

We've compared both defenders.

Manchester United have been stepping up their interest in Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite, but would the 21-year-old be an upgrade on Lisandro Martinez?

Accoring to TEAMtalk sources, the Red Devils have made Branthwaite their top defensive target for the summer as Sir Jim Ratcliffe eyes an ambitious rebuild.

Everton value the rising star at around £80m, although Man Utd themselves will be hoping to strike a deal for a significantly smaller price tag. Reports have indicated that United plan to test the waters with an opening £50m bid.

With both Branthwaite and Martinez being left-footed centre-halves, it begs the question of who is better suited to the role at Old Trafford.

In this feature, we’ve taken a closer look at both players and have compared their strengths and weaknesses to see who would be the best fit in Erik ten Hag’s side.

Why Man Utd want to sign Branthwaite

There can be no denying that Branthwaite currently ranks as one of the most promising upcoming English defenders. Following loan spells with Blackburn Rovers and PSV, he’s nailed down a starting spot at Everton this season.

Despite Sean Dyche’s side currently sitting 16th in the table, they boast the joint-fourth best defensive record in the league and Branthwaite has played a major role in that.

The 21-year-old excels in defensive duels and having won 50 tackles, made 41 interceptions and 104 clearances, he certainly doesn’t shy away from getting stuck in.

Jarrod Branthwaite stats for Everton in 2023-24

Standing at 6ft 5in, he’s also a real threat from aerial situations. In the Premier League this season, he’s won 65 aerial duels which is more than any United player has managed.

On average, he wins 65 per cent of the aerial duels that he contests and along with being an asset at the back, he can also cause havoc in the opposition box too. Already this season he’s managed to score two goals for himself.

Following his impressive form at club level, Gareth Southgate named the Everton star in the latest England squad which will no doubt bump his price tag up even further.

“Great credit to him and Sean [Dyche] for giving a young centre-half an opportunity,” Southgate told reporters. “He’s good with the ball. He shows good composure and mentality, and he’s a left-footer; we don’t have many left-footed defenders.

“He’s in on merit. We’re really keen to work with him and find out a bit more about him.”

DON’T MISS – Incredible Man Utd XI for 2024/25 as Ratcliffe rebuild takes full shape with several blockbuster incomings

How he compares to Martinez

Given that both Branthwaite and Martinez are left-sided defenders, it’s reasonable to think that they could be competing for the same starting spot next season if United are able to land a deal for the Everton star.

As Martinez has missed a large chunk of this season through injury, we’ve compared their stats across all competitions over the last 365 days, to give a fair assessment of each player.

The most striking difference between both players relates to their aerial ability and given the height difference between them, this probably won’t come as much of a surprise.

Winning an average of 2.56 aerial duels per 90, Branthwaite ranks in the top 75 percentile for centre-halves in Europe’s top five leagues when it comes to winning headers. Whereas Martinez ranks in the bottom one percentile, winning just 0.45 aerial duels per 90.

When it comes to tackles and interceptions, there isn’t a great deal between both defenders, with both of them having reasonably good underlying stats in this area.

However, another striking difference between both players relates to their quality on the ball. This is a real strength of Martinez and is the one department where he blows Branthwaite out of the water.

The Argentine defender has a vastly superior pass completion, progressive carries and successful take-on rate when compared to the Everton star.

However, this could be a result of the two players playing in significantly different sides. After all, Branthwaite does play for a Dyche team who play in a very direct style.

Everton play an average of 80.3 long balls per 90 which is more than any other Premier League side. For context, United play just 67.5 long balls per 90.

As a result of Everton’s direct style of play, Branthwaite doesn’t get as much of an opportunity to showcase what he’s capable of doing on the ball.

However, when you extrapolate Branthwaite’s numbers from his loan spell with PSV last season, he did prove that he’s capable of playing in a more possession-based side.

This is a real tick against the Everton defender as he’s shown that he’s capable of adapting to a different style of play. Whether he’s playing for a direct Everton side or a possession-based PSV outfit, he can thrive in either department.

Who would be the better fit?

Given how both players compare to one another, it would be reasonable to think that a duo of Martinez and Branthwaite could actually make a decent defensive partnership.

However, it’s very rare that two left-footed centre-halves play together and it seems more than likely that they would be competing for the same spot.

Since the start of the 2022-23 season, Martinez has missed 44 games through injury, whereas Branthwaite has only missed nine matches in that timeframe. This is a big tick in the favour of Branthwaite.

Given the money it will likely take to secure the Everton defender’s signature, it seems more than likely that he would immediately be thrown into the starting 11.

Branthwaite is adaptable to adjust his ball-playing skills to suit Ten Hag’s side and his superior aerial ability also gives him an edge over Martinez too.

United would be spoilt for choice if they had both defenders available for selection next season. Going on the recent reports, there’s every chance that both players will be wearing red in 2024-25.

READ MORE – Five potential replacements for Marcus Rashford as PSG eye Man Utd man; €175m superstar, classy Prem winger…