United want to exploit Everton position to sign Branthwaite cheap

The Old Trafford outfit have identified Jarrad Branthwaite as a priority transfer target in this summer's window and hope to get a deal done quickly.
Everton FC v Sheffield United - Premier League
Everton FC v Sheffield United - Premier League / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

That is because Everton are in a very difficult financial position and might face the prospect of another PSR breach following the two that have already led to points deductions this season.

All this means the Blues could be forced to sell their most valuable playing assets quickly and cheaply rather than being able to hold out for a higher price later in the transfer window.

This of course is what happened when Richarlison was sold to Tottenham for considerably less than his market value in June 2022 just before the end of that financial year.

Doing so though, did not prevent the Toffees from falling foul of PSR and being hit with those (eventual) eight point deductions which so nearly pushed them into another last-day relegation dogfight in this campaign.

Now the club are facing another financial black hole and that is compounded by huge uncertainty about who the future owners with be with 777 Partners bid looking pretty much dead-in-the-water.

Well now Manchester United are lining up to be the latest Premier League rival who want to take advantage of Everton's plight this summer.

And, according to media stories they are only willing to pay £50 million for England international Branthwaite, not the £80 million the Blues allegedly want for him.

Branthwaite along with Amaou Onana have been the two names who are considered most likely to attract big money bids in this transfer window.

Onana's departure seems almost certain and that is not a major issue for me given his often indifferent form and the fact that the club have extended Idrissa Gueye's contract by another year.

But I, along with I assume most Evertonians, would be loathe to see Branthwaite depart given what a defensive colossus he has been this season at centre-back, especially at well below market value.

Ever since the 21-year-old finally got into the team a few weeks after the season started and following a disastrous 4-0 thrashing at Aston Villa, he has rarely put a foot wrong.

His pace, outstanding tackling and ability in possession have all been on regular display and have seen him a contender for man-of-the-match awards nearly every game. He has even popped up to score a few crucial goals too.

Most of all though it is Branthwaite's calmness, maturity and astute positional sense that have stood out, giving the impression he has been playing at this level for years rather than months.

At the moment he looks to be on a fast trajectory to becoming one of the very best central defenders in England if not Europe.

In addition, he forms part of a centre-back combination with James Tarkowski that has become one of the best in the Premier League, and is critical to manager Sean Dyche's tactics and approach.

Despite their struggles and conceding those four at Villa and six at Chelsea this season, only the top three of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool have let in fewer goals than Everton.

So, were he to depart it would leave a major hole that would have to be filled if the Blues were going to be able to resume that resilient approach again next season.

Dyche has said he will be consulted about any sales of his players, but how much power he will ultimately have is open to question.

There are young defenders out there who might possibly be good candidates to replace Branthwaite but it is hard to imagine the Toffees finding a player who can match his consistent excellence at this level.

Ideally, if he has to be sold I hope at least the Blues have enough time to try and create a little bidding war and so push the price up a bit more.

Unfortunately, it looks more and more as though we are going to have to resign ourselves to prematurely losing this brilliant young player before we have seen what he might have been able to add to a better and more competitive Everton side.

It has happened several times over the last twenty odd years (remember Wayne Rooney) I wonder if things will ever improve enough to prevent this again in the future.