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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Jarrad Branthwaite agrees Man Utd personal terms but one stumbling block remains

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Football

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Manchester United have agreed personal terms with Jarrad Branthwaite as they hope to make the Everton defender their first summer signing.

However, United are reluctant to pay the Merseyside club’s asking price, with Everton wanting at least £70m for the England international, which would come close to a world-record fee for a centre-back.

United hope to begin their summer rebuilding job by bringing in Branthwaite after the departure of Raphael Varane, who was released on a free transfer after his contract expired.

Manager Erik ten Hag, who is in talks about a new contract himself, felt defensive injuries were a major reason why United struggled so much last season. All five of their senior centre-backs spent spells on the sidelines as youngster Willy Kambwala and midfielder Casemiro had spells filling in.

Branthwaite, who was fit throughout Everton’s campaign, also represents a younger generation than Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, who will both enter the last year of their respective contracts, and the departed Varane.

However, Everton believe that Branthwaite’s nationality, left-footedness and age, at just 21, mean he is particularly valuable. They have noted the £80m price United paid for Maguire in 2019 along with the £77m fee Josko Gvardiol commanded last summer and Wesley Fofana’s £70m cost in 2022 and are looking for a similar sum.

Jarrad Branthwaite had an impressive season for Everton

Jarrad Branthwaite had an impressive season for Everton (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

But Everton, who were given two points deductions this season, could need to sell players by 30 June to comply with Profitability and Sustainability Rules and Branthwaite could raise the biggest sum – even if United’s own FFP concerns could limit their budget.

United hope to tie up some of their summer business early after new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has taken control of footballing operations. Jason Wilcox, who joined as technical director, is playing a major role in recruitment.

Branthwaite made his debut for England this month as a substitute against Bosnia and Herzegovina but did not make Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for Euro 2024. However, United see him as a player for their future.

United are also looking for a centre-forward, with Ivan Toney, Jonathan David and Joshua Zirkzee all figuring on their shortlist as they look for an alternative to Rasmus Hojlund. In addition, they are likely to look for another defensive midfielder. They are also in talks with Jonny Evans, their oldest centre-back, about a new deal.

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