Branthwaite must get chance at Everton after breakthrough PSV loan

ALKMAAR, NETHERLANDS - MAY 28: Jarrad Branthwaite of PSV looks on during the Dutch Eredivisie match between AZ and PSV at AFAS Stadion on May 28, 2023 in Alkmaar, Netherlands (Photo by Patrick Goosen/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
ALKMAAR, NETHERLANDS - MAY 28: Jarrad Branthwaite of PSV looks on during the Dutch Eredivisie match between AZ and PSV at AFAS Stadion on May 28, 2023 in Alkmaar, Netherlands (Photo by Patrick Goosen/BSR Agency/Getty Images) /

Jarrad Branthwaite has been speaking about his ambitions for this coming season as he returns to Everton from his successful loan spell with PSV Eindhoven.

The young central defender has had an up and down time since he signed for the Toffees from Carlise in January 2020, just a month after Carlo Ancelotti had become manager.

In fact he was the first addition to the Everton squad after the feted Italian coach had agreed to take the reins at Goodison Park.

Branthwaite was very much a player in the mold of the sort of young talent that then Director of Football Marcel Brands liked to target.

The defender has height, pace and good ability in possession, being very comfortable bringing the ball out of defence.

He is also left-footed which is unusual and an advantage potentially giving natural balance at centre-back.

However inevitably, the then 18-year-old didn’t get much of a look in as regards the first-team squad and was very much considered one for the future.

As Blues managers came and went, Branthwaite got a few sporadic chances and mixed solid performances with less assured ones, understandable perhaps given his youth and inexperience.

Last year he was loaned out to Eredivisie giants PSV to see if he could make progress. And, after a difficult start Branthwaite blossomed.

So much so, that the Dutch club wanted to make his signing permanent this summer after he contributed to them wining the Dutch domestic cup. Then he enjoyed international success as part of England’s Under-21 Euro winning squad.

He has now returned to Merseyside and unless something changes in the next few weeks (and who knows it still might) he will be an Everton player again when the Toffees kick off the new campaign against Fulham.

While most of the transfer focus this summer has been on new forwards, centre-back is actually another position in the Blues squad that needs attention.

Everton have let two senior and very experienced defenders in Yerry Mina and Conor Coady leave in this window and there are still rumours that Mason Holgate could also join them out of the door.

Where that to happen, it would leave the Toffees with just Ben Godfrey, James Tarkowski and Micheal Keane as regular first-team starters in that crucial position.

Worryingly, based on pre-season so far, Sean Dyche seems to be planning on going with Tarkowski and Keane again (as he did for while last season) when the new campaign starts.

Along with many Evertonians, I am far from convinced about Keane as he has produced so many error-strewn performances over the last few years. I don’t want to see him starting next season.

Godfrey is little better an option and appears to have gone backwards recently after a bright start to his career at Goodison Park. That only leaves Tarkowski who would be considered consistent and reliable.

So, that means there should ideally be an opportunity for Branthwaite to impress in pre-season and hopefully get a chance to force his way into the manager’s thinking.

Although Dyche doesn’t like using young players, given the limitations of his squad in terms of numbers he will surely have to give more of them a chance.

There is one other factor that I think might help Branthwaite and this is the arrival of Ashley Young.

Young is a hugely experienced player who has operated in almost every outfield position over the course of his long career.

The former England international spent most of last season playing full-back for Aston Villa and that was where he is expected to be seen most often in a royal blue shirt.

In particular, left-back is a position where Young could offer real competition to a player in Vitalii Mykolenko who has failed to convince he has the ability to cope in the Premier League.

If he does play there he could lend that experience to a central defender inside him who still has only a few starts in the English top flight.

Next. Gray Everton exit looms. dark