'You've seen nothing yet' - Jarrad Branthwaite claim as Man United handed £55m deadline

Jarrad Branthwaite is on Manchester United's transfer shortlist
Jarrad Branthwaite is on Manchester United's transfer shortlist -Credit:Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Jarrad Branthwaite remains a top target for Manchester United as they look to rebuild their defence this summer. Two central defenders could come into Old Trafford during the transfer window, and the Everton defender is at the top of the shopping list.

The decision not to take up the option on Raphael Varane's contract this week came as little surprise. The Frenchman is an outstanding player, but his salary and injury record meant it was the right call to part ways.

United are still mulling over what to do with the likes of Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans. The latter is out of contract but could get a new deal. Either way, though, a younger, fitter centre-back is absolutely required to help United get back challenging for the Premier League title.

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Brazilian Gleison Bremer, out-of-contract Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo, Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo and Bayer Leverkusen centre-half Edmond Tapsoba have all been monitored by United scouts, but Branthwaite is the one player who is top of the shopping list, as the Manchester Evening News reported back in February.

Former Everton star turned radio co-commentator Pat Nevin has watched a lot of the defender as part of his punditry work, and is effusive in his praise for the stopper. He believes the Cumbrian can go right to the very top.

"I've been watching and writing about him this season, and Everton fans will know this as well, you have seen absolutely nothing yet," said Nevin.

"This is a 21-year-old kid who is playing at the top level who looks more assured every single game. He can come out with the ball, he can spray passes, he has got real confidence. How many kids of his age have come through and looked as good at this age?

"He will make mistakes, because he is a confident young centre-half, but he isn't afraid to make them and he has the temperament to learn from them. If I was looking for a young centre-back at an elite club in Europe, he would be top of my list. He absolutely ticks every single box."

Branthwaite has had a £75million price tag slapped on his head. He was called into the England squad by Gareth Southgate for the recent friendlies against Brazil and Belgium but didn't make it off the bench.

Reports this week claimed that United are not willing to fork out that much for the uncapped man, even if he gets called into the Euro 2024 squad. Instead, they could look to capitalise on Everton's ongoing financial issues.

With Everton having been found guilty twice in recent months of breaching the Premier League's profit and sustainability (PSR) rules, and receiving points deductions, they remain in a perilous financial position, especially with the saga of their stalled takeover by 777 Partners and the building of their new Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium.

Toffees director of football Kevin Thelwell admitted that key assets like Branthwaite, Jordan Pickford and Amadou Onana - another player United have monitored - could be sold this summer. He said: "The reality is, given the regulations in place and the cub’s current financial position, we have to trade well. Working within such tight financial parameters makes the job extremely difficult.

"Whilst we want to ensure that the team is as competitive as possible, we cannot lose sight of our central objective to protect the long-term stability of the club. That does mean that players will be sold."

With June 30 the deadline for the 2023/24 accounting period, there will be a rush on from some clubs, including Everton, to sell a player before then to avoid any further PSR breaches. It is this that United could take advantage of with Everton needing some quick cash - although the Old Trafford club have their own financial issues and may need to sell a player or two themselves by this deadline.

Nevin added to Prime Slots UK: "Branthwaite absolutely will not be cheap, even though Everton need to sell this summer. He's going to cost a fortune, but I personally hope he stays at Everton because I think they badly need him.

"But there are very few clubs in world football that would not want to buy Jarrad Branthwaite, he could be that good."