Man United transfer twist could give Everton Jarrad Branthwaite boost before new bid

As the clock ticks down on the transfer ‘window’ within a window, Everton could be handed a massive transfer boost over Jarrad Branthwaite with reports emerging that Manchester United are eyeing Matthijs de Ligt.

David Ornstein of the Athletic claims that Manchester United are seriously considering a move to sign De Ligt from Bayern Munich. He admits that no club talks have taken place yet or a certainty that a move happens but the Bayern centre-back is becoming an increasingly viable option for United.

Ornstein adds that the move is independent of ongoing Branthwaite interest but in reality the brazen penny-pinching of Old Trafford chiefs over the Blues’ most-valuable asset – insulting to both the player and his employers – surely means they couldn’t get deals for both players over the line this summer. Although Everton insist they don’t expect to lose Branthwaite and are actively planning for him to be with them next season, unless a mega offer comes in, they are braced for further interest from United after an opening bid of £35million plus add ons was rejected as unacceptable.

The 21-year-old England international only penned a new contract at Goodison Park last autumn which runs until 2027, and despite United claiming they have other irons in the fire, they remain interested and have not yet turned their attentions elsewhere, but De Ligt could well prove a game-changer.

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Although it’s understood that multiple possibilities are being weighed up, Jean-Clair Todibo cannot be recruited from Nice while Champions League winners Real Madrid are firm favourites for Lille’s Leny Yoro. Ten Hag worked with De Ligt when he burst onto the scene at Ajax as a precocious talent – handing him the captaincy while still a teenager – and while the Netherlands international remains under contract at Bayern until 2027, Ornstein states that the cost of a potential transfer is likely to be more realistic than other options such as Branthwaite.

For their part, the Blues maintain they will not be bullied into selling Branthwaite on the cheap with claims of a Goodison Park ‘fire sale’ this summer wide of the mark. Given the £80million fee that United paid for Harry Maguire in 2019, the £75million Chelsea paid for Wesley Fofana in 2022 and the £77million Manchester City paid for Josko Gvardiol in 2023, Everton consider their breakthrough star of last season to be in the same bracket, especially given the premium for both left-footed defenders and homegrown talent.

Which brings us to this weekend and Sunday’s last day of football’s financial year and therefore the last chance for clubs to improve their position in regard to the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability Regulations. Given the moribund nature of transfer deadline day in the winter window – mainly down to Everton’s points deduction for financial breaches scaring everyone else into spending – Sky Sports News might like to big up this ‘event’ seeing as they don’t have the rights to show matches at the Euros?

The thing is, it would seem that the Blues’ economic perils have been greatly exaggerated in the eyes of Manchester United and indeed many others, who it appears thought they could just snatch the brightest talents from within Sean Dyche’s squad for rock bottom prices. As Everton have remained firm on all along though, they believe their stars have a value and they will only leave if that valuation is met and the players themselves want to leave.

Yet the language around prospective negotiations is often skewed against the Blues. Manchester United say they won’t be ‘held to ransom’ over Branthwaite – excuse me, he’s Everton’s player and they don’t want to sell.

Even Newcastle United, walking away from talks with Everton last week over Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Yankuba Minteh, with it claimed the Magpies: “left the room after demands from the Merseyside club became too much.”

The Blues’ Premier League rivals need to get real with their own ideas over price tags. Calvert-Lewin might only have a year left to run on his current contract but he is a proven Premier League performer who is one of only four players to have broken the 50-goal barrier for Everton in the competition over 32 years and he’s also integral to how Dyche’s side play.

In contrast, while Minteh is an exciting prospect, he hasn’t yet kicked a ball in world football’s toughest domestic division but Newcastle, who picked him up for a mere £6million last summer, seemingly won’t budge over their £40million price tag and wanted Calvert-Lewin PLUS cash for him and have got themselves into a hissy fit because he doesn’t want to be shipped off to Lyon instead. If Goodison Park chiefs – who have now sold Lewis Dobbin and Ben Godfrey to ease their PSR worries – can get through this weekend without being forced to flog one of their main men on the cheap, then suddenly their bargaining position becomes a whole lot stronger.

Indeed, we’re also told Bayern are running out of patience over Joao Palhinha and have reportedly submitted a “final offer” to Fulham for the Portuguese midfielder so they could turn their attentions to Amadou Onana instead. To offset the cost of the Belgian international, the Bundesliga outfit could then sell De Ligt to Manchester United and Branthwaite could stay put – not bad for a club who some more unscrupulous outlets claimed were “going bust” just a few weeks ago.

Evertonians know the true value of ‘The Carlisle Kaiser’, even if United don’t and would love him to stick around for Goodison Park’s historic final season, or better still, the first year at their magnificent new stadium on the Mersey waterfront. Back when the Blues played at Old Trafford in March, their hugely gifted number 32 was dubbed “Gerrard Braithwaite” by the official stadium announcer... why should he want to go there?