Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ratcliffe lines up marquee £80m Man Utd signing to finally solve Ten Hag’s biggest weakness

Everton centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite

Man Utd will move for Everton centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is ready to splash the cash and make Everton ace Jarrad Branthwaite a marquee Manchester United signing, and a report has detailed a key relationship that can spring the deal.

Ratcliffe will oversee a sweeping squad overhaul at Old Trafford this summer. Few areas of Man Utd’s playing personnel will be spared and arguably the biggest issue that must be addressed is the current side’s inability to keep opposing attacks quiet.

Indeed, Man Utd have given up a mind-boggling 107 shots in their last four Premier League matches, none of which they’ve won.

Whether the blame lies in the lack of hard-working forwards, inadequate protection provided by the declining Casemiro, United’s centre-backs or Ten Hag’s instructions is open to debate.

However, what is clear is Man Utd require an upgrade at centre-half and a new long-term partner for Lisandro Martinez next season.

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Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans are both out of contract this summer and the former has interest from Saudi Arabia. Elsewhere, Harry Maguire is a confirmed transfer target at West Ham.

Ratcliffe has reportedly instructed his underlings to favour signing either British players or stars who at the very least have Premier League experience.

One man who ticks both boxes is Jarrad Branthwaite who earned his maiden call-up to England’s senior team for the friendlies with Brazil and Belgium last month.

The Mirror previously claimed Branthwaite, 21, has been installed as United’s No 1 centre-back target. Per a fresh update from the Sun, Man Utd are prepared to act on their interest.

£80m could be required; Jason Wilcox key

A whopping £80m figure is cited as being required to unlock a deal. Whether United are willing to stretch that far if Everton play hardball remains to be seen.

The Toffees are expected to sell one or perhaps both of Branthwaite and Amadou Onana to help balance their books this summer.

In any case, the Sun state United want to make Branthwaite one of their early marquee signings and the influence of Jason Wilcox could help seal a deal.

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Wilcox has agreed to become Man Utd’s new technical director after resigning as Southampton’s sporting director a fortnight ago.

The Sun state Wilcox has a ‘close working relationship’ with David Reeves who serves as Branthwaite’s agent.

United hope that factor gives them an edge over any other side who thunders into the mix for a player who is widely viewed as the future of England’s defence.

Branthwaite rose to prominence during a stellar loan spell with Dutch side PSV Eindhoven last season.

After spending the first two matches of this season on the bench, Branthwaite was inserted into the eleven by Sean Dyche in gameweek three and has started every match he’s been available for since.

Branthwaite has helped Everton to amass the Premier League’s fourth-meanest defence this term with 42 goals conceded. The only three teams to concede fewer are the three title challengers – Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal.

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