There are renewed stories that Manchester United are interested in signing Jarrad Branthwaite while Everton weigh up a new contract offer for the defender.
Branthwaite’s performances have been pretty much the only consistently substantial bright spot in what has otherwise been a dreadful few months for the Toffees since the season began.
That awful start culminated in Saturday’s appalling 2-1 reverse to Luton Town as Everton lost a fourth straight game at home since the campaign began.
Meanwhile, the young centre-back’s consistently excellent displays have shone through with his maturity and coolness, ability on the ball and in the air as well as some superbly timed last-ditch tackling representing a genuine positive in all the gloom.
I have always been a big fan of the defender, but Sean Dyche was reluctant to start the Under 21 England international despite his excellent form for PSV Eindhoven when on loan in Holland last season and his contribution to England winning the Under 21 European championships.
So, Branthwaite – who had been the subject of constant transfer speculation during the summer when his loan at Eindhoven finished with the Dutch club keen to keep him – was overlooked at the start of the season.
Dyche went with Micheal Keane alongside James Tarkowski, much to the consternation of many Everton supporters.
Finally, after three consecutive defeats, Dyche put the former Carlise youth product into his back four and Branthwaite has slotted in seamlessly playing as if he was a seasoned Premier League performer.
Since he has come into the side results have improved, with the Blues managing to secure a first point of the campaign at Sheffield United.
And then they went on to notch two consecutive away wins at Brentford and Aston Villa. On each occasion he has arguably been the Toffees most consistent performer.
Then came the Luton debacle last Saturday when again he was probably the home team’s best player, although there was little competition!
Branthwaite is one of several young players who Everton might be able to build around for the future, if the club can be stabalised with new owners and the team stays up at the end of the season. All of which seems increasingly doubtful at the moment.
Along with him in my view are Nathan Patterson, James Garner and possibly Amadou Onana. While others such as Lewis Dobbin and Youssef Chermiti could join them, although the jury is still out on those youngsters’ potential.
Critically then, Everton must do everything they can to try and keep hold of the best and most consistently strongly performing of those players; Branthwaite.
And, frankly there is on one else anyway to replace him as Keane has far too much baggage and Ben Godfrey certainly doesn’t convince either.