Magpies eyeing summer swoop for young Everton centre-back

Newcastle's scouts were at Old Trafford to watch Jarrad Branthwaite as the Blues went down to their customary defeat at Manchester United.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Everton FC - Premier League
Brighton & Hove Albion v Everton FC - Premier League / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Branthwaite and the Everton defence in fact had a bit of a wobbly day against United and conceded two needless penalties, which were enough for the hosts to claim all three points.

But overall since he came into the Toffees team a few weeks into the season, Branthwaite has been outstanding and in my view Everton's best and most consistent performer.

After his successful loan spell in Holland with PSV Eindhoven last year, the 21-year-old centre-back has come into the Premier League and barely missed a step.

His physical gifts have been on abundant display this season with the pace, strength in the tackle and comfort on the ball that he possesses making him an archetype modern central defender.

But perhaps most of all it is the self-confidence and calmness he has, belying his still tender years and lack of experience, which have been most impressive.

Branthwaite has formed one of the Premier League's most secure and consistent central defensive partnerships so far this campaign alongside James Tarkowski.

All this is especially impressive considering that he is playing in one of the league's poorest sides under a manager who's tactics are highly defensive, putting his backline under even more pressure to perform.

And, after being part of the England Under-21 group that won the European Championships last summer, it is surely not long before he will get a call-up to Gareth Southgate's senior squad. Indeed, Southgate was another interested spectator at Old Trafford last weekend.

So, it is hardly surprising that the player signed from Carlisle United a few weeks after Carlo Ancelotti had become the Blues boss in December 2019, should be on the radar of other clubs, such as the Toffees opponents last Saturday.

Last year he was linked with Ancelotti's current team Real Madrid who of course already have one of England's best young stars in Jude Bellingham.

Another club closer to home, Newcastle United, are apparently also keen to try and bring the defender to Tyneside this summer as they look to strengthen for another bid at trophies and the Champions League. What it must be like to support a club that have that kind of ambition!

Having got into the Everton starting eleven this season Branthwaite then signed a contract extension keeping him at Goodison Park until 2027.

This means that at least the Blues could demand a big fee for the outstanding young defender in the summer if the Magpies or anyone else came calling, assuming of course they were still a Premier League club.

That though seems to be an increasingly less and less likely outcome as the Toffees stumble from one defeat to another on the pitch while chaos and confusion still reins off it.

Obviously, were the worst to happen at the end of the season then Branthwaite as well as Amadou Onana and possibly others (although I'm not sure any other players have made enough positive impression to get a move!) would almost certainly leave for pastures new.

Even if Everton somehow manage to dip into the well of miracles once more and stave off relegation yet again, it does still seem almost inevitable they will lose several of their best players this summer.