Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd told £80m signing of Premier League club’s best player ‘will happen’ with Ratcliffe to offload duo

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is determined to bring Jarrad Branthwaite to Manchester United

Manchester United have been given a huge shot in the arm in the battle with Manchester City to sign Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite with a transfer to Old Trafford being strongly tipped to go through – but any move will also see the departure of two stalwarts from the club.

The Red Devils are struggling for consistency on the field this season, having already lost a mammoth 16 times in 40 matches across all competitions so far; form which has placed Erik ten Hag’s future as Manchester United boss in some jeopardy. Whether the Dutchman survives at the helm remains to be seen and much will depend on how the club fares between now and the end of the season.

Indeed, while the pulsating 4-3 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-finals illustrated what United are capable of, fresh reports on Tuesday have indicated that a change at the top is coming, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s eyes now firmly fixed on a Premier League outsider to take on the top job.

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Behind the scenes, Ratcliffe’s is assembling some of English football’s elite brains to ensure the club are doing all in their power to return to the pinnacle of the game.

And with the arrival of new sporting director Dan Ashworth now closer than ever, plans for the upcoming summer window are starting to take shape.

To that end, Ratcliffe and Ashworth reportedly have plans to strengthen the spine of the United side – meaning a new defender, midfielder and striker will be sought, while another option to play off the right wing is also seen as incredibly desirable.

Man Utd told they will beat Man City to Jarrad Branthwaite deal

As far as a new defender is concerned, United do have a number of options in mind, though in recent weeks, that focus appears to have shifted to Everton star Branthwaite, who is enjoying an excellent season with the Toffees and is in line to make his debut for England on Tuesday evening.

The 21-year-old has established himself as one of the Premier League’s best defenders, with admiring glances being cast his way from United, Liverpool, Manchester City and even Real Madrid.

However, after drawing up a shortlist that also contains Juventus’ Gleison Bremer, it seems Branthwaite is now emerging as Ratcliffe’s number one target.

To that end, TEAMtalk exclusively revealed earlier this month that any deal to prise him away from Goodison Park will cost his suitors a minimum £80m.

However, that is unlikely to put Ratcliffe off the scent and, with the Toffees also probably needing a big sale to help balance the books, talkSPORT presenter Jeff Stelling has told United that a deal for Branthwaite ‘will happen’.

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“It’s going to happen. Everton need the money, and their biggest asset, their most sellable asset, is 21-year-old Jarrad Branthwaite,” Stelling said.

“I think he will find himself at Old Trafford. Never mind Man City, it’ll be Old Trafford, I imagine.

“With the likes of Jonny Evans, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire, all ageing players, they need to bring in some youth, and I’m thinking £45million, something like that, would do the job.”

Man Utd to offload ageing pair to make way for Everton star

Stelling’s claim that Branthwaite will move on for as little as £45m appears wide of the mark, however, especially given the price that top Premier League stars go for these days.

United would undoubtedly snap Everton’s hand off for such a lowly sum, especially with the player on the cusp of becoming a full international.

To clear the decks though for his arrival, United will reportedly wave goodbye to two defenders of their own in the form of Evans and Varane.

Varane arrived at the club in a £41m switch from Real Madrid in summer 2021, but has been in and out of Ten Hag’s plans this season. Behind the scenes, Ratcliffe is thought to have been critical of his signing, with the World Cup winner now the top earner at Old Trafford on wages of £340,000 a week.

His deal has a year left to run after this season and it’s widely reported that United will not stand in his way if a suitable offer comes in.

Former club Real Madrid, German giants Bayern Munich and clubs in the Saudi Pro League have all been linked.

Evans, meanwhile, turned 36 earlier this season, having joined United on a one-year deal over the summer. The veteran Northern Ireland international has provided useful cover this term, appearing in 24 matches across all competitions.

Ratcliffe, however, knows that they cannot rely on the ageing star forever and it’s reported a decision has now been taken not to extend his deal, leaving him free to move on and perhaps enjoy one final adventure of his career before retiring.

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