Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag in raptures as Man Utd advance towards supreme signing after selling club finds replacement

Sunderland star Daniel Ballard

Daniel Ballard could replace a Man Utd-linked star

Manchester United have a much better chance of signing Everton star Jarrad Branthwaite after the Toffees identified a classy replacement for the 21-year-old, as per a report.

Man Utd part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who recently purchased a 25 per cent stake in the club from the Glazer family, has identified central defence as an area that needs strengthening as a priority this summer. Manager Erik ten Hag currently has Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans as centre-half options in his squad, though some of those players might leave at the end of the campaign.

Man Utd have yet to activate their option to extend Varane’s contract from June 2024 to June 2025, which has left the former Real Madrid star frustrated. He is now considering leaving Old Trafford on a free transfer, with Saudi club Al-Nassr hoping to reunite him with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Maguire has managed to turn his situation at Man Utd around this term and has forced his way back into Ten Hag’s plans. Although, it is unclear whether Maguire will manage to convince Ratcliffe and his INEOS team that he should play a significant role in the new era.

Evans, meanwhile, is now 36 years old and will surely be starting to think about hanging up his boots at some point in the near future.

Ratcliffe believes Branthwaite is one of the best young defenders in England, who would be able to form a crucial part of Man Utd’s starting eleven for at least the next 5-10 years.

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Man Utd were given a huge boost recently as it emerged that their main transfer rivals for Branthwaite, Tottenham Hotspur, have dropped out of the race.

According to an update from Football Transfers, Man Utd are slowly getting closer to capturing the England U21 international as Everton are already preparing for life without him.

Daniel Ballard to replace Man Utd target at Everton

It is claimed that Sean Dyche’s side have landed on Sunderland defender Daniel Ballard as a solid replacement for Branthwaite in their backline.

Everton hold ‘concrete interest’ in Ballard after having watched him on several occasions since the final few months of the 2022-23 campaign.

The 24-year-old is a Northern Ireland international who came through the Arsenal academy before leaving for Sunderland in a €2.3m deal in July 2022.

Ballard has since established himself as a key member of the Sunderland squad. Indeed, he has played in all but two of their 34 Championship games this season, with his classy performances getting Everton’s attention.

Sunderland have loved watching Ballard develop under their guidance and will not want to lose him on the cheap. As such, they will demand around £20m if Everton come calling this summer.

Despite their recent financial problems, Everton should have the funds to match that asking price. After all, Branthwaite is likely to move for upwards of £80m, and there has even been talk of Man Utd paying a whopping £100m to make him the first signing of their exciting project.

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