Everton boss Sean Dyche has been talking about his transfer dealings and specifically how he made it clear he refused to allow Jarrad Branthwaite to leave whatever the potential fee.
The summer transfer window had been characterised by a significant player exit with a host of first team and youth players leaving the club as the need to reduce the wage bill was paramount.
In the end, Yerry Mina, Conor Coady, Neal Maupay, Alex Iwobi, Tom Davies, Demarai Gray, Ellis Simms, Tom Cannon and a number of other youngsters left Everton over the summer.
One other player who had been linked persistently with a move away was Branthwaite.
The January 2020 signing from Carlise United – Carlo Ancelotti’s first as manager – had just returned from a hugely impressive loan spell at PSV Eindhoven in Holland.
The Dutch club were anxious to make his loan into a permanent deal and at one point seemed close to doing so with some reports even claiming the player wanted to return to the Eredivisie.
I strongly wanted the Blues to resist that option and keep hold of a player who had all the tools and potential to be an outstanding defender. So it seems did the manager.
With his coolness, pace, ability and confidence on the ball, strength in the air and willingness to tackle and do all the basics of defending, he had the ability to become a top class centre-back.
Fortunately he wasn’t sold, although half the first-team squad seemed to be leaving with the deadline day sales of Iwobi, Gray and Cannon leaving Dyche short of numbers and options, especially in midfield and out wide.
It has proved to be an excellent decision though to keep Branthwaite. The England Under-21 star having performed brilliantly since he came into the team this season after playing a part in the Under-21s European Championships win.
Even though it is really his first proper campaign in the Premier League, Branthwaite looks totally at ease and assured as if he has been playing there for years.
As Dyche points out it has surely helped to have alongside him a defender of the nous and experience of James Tarkowski. Together they have formed arguably one of the league’s best centre-back partnerships.
Now he is a fixture in defence having also signed a new long-term deal and given that Everton only have the error-prone Micheal Keane and the wildly erratic Ben Godfrey in reserve, we have to keep our fingers crossed he stays fit.
The only blot on the copybook is that he has picked up a few yellow cards already, including his fourth in yesterday’s draw with Brighton. He now faces a one-match ban if he gets another one at Crystal Palace next weekend. Let’s hope he doesn’t!