Jarrad Branthwaite had an audition to forget in Everton’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester United – Man United News And Transfer News

Jarrad Branthwaite had an audition to forget in Everton’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester United – Man United News And Transfer News

Jonny Evans being Manchester United’s most consistently excellent centre-back this season is as much a reflection on the club’s paucity of options as it is on the player’s own form.

While Evans has been a breath of fresh air, it is a concerning matter for the club when a player who wasn’t even going to be signed in the summer becomes indispensable.

Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that United could be targeting a new centre-back in the summer transfer window.

A name that has been mentioned a lot in that discussion is that of Jarrad Branthwaite, the 21-year-old defender of Everton who has grabbed eyeballs this season by being the leader of Everton’s defence.

Yesterday would have been the perfect chance for the player to pass an Old Trafford audition with flying colours but he crashed and burned as United’s pacy attackers exposed his glaring weakness.

Alejandro Garnacho had him on toast for much of the game as Branthwaite struggled to contain tricky attackers’ change of direction and agility (Maguire flashbacks, anyone?).

Branthwaite had his usual composed game while defending in the box, as he looked up to the task of defending when the ball was in front of him.

However, when he had to run towards his own goal, he looked jittery and prone to conceding fouls instead of taking on his attacker in a race (comparisons with Maguire just don’t end).

It has often been said that if United are to take the next step in their evolution, they need to have a spine of modern players who can play on the front foot.

The style of defending mastered by the likes of Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire, or Jarrad Branthwaite, for that matter, serves its purpose, but against modern, high-pressing teams, with attackers changing positions fluidly, it forces the manager to sacrifice control for last-gasp defending.

Add to that Branthwaite’s contract situation, his deal expires in 2027, and it has all the makings of a deal that can eerily be termed “Harry Maguire 2.0”.

Everton are expected to demand a king’s ransom for the player who, in reality, is far more valuable to the Toffees under Sean Dyche than he would be to any other team in the league.

Ultimately, Branthwaite is a player who serves a specific purpose and will look good in a team that defends deep and in the box, but his game will be exposed in a forward-thinking team that defends on the halfway line.

The reality is that United want to be the latter type of team and Branthwaite is the antithesis of that player.

One game is not enough to pass a definitive judgement on the player but being put on skates by United’s nifty attackers yesterday only answered a question that had been in many United fans’ minds for as long as he has been linked to the club.

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