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Manchester United are reportedly targeting Everton youngster Jarrad Branthwaite. The centre-back is yet to establish himself at Goodison Park and has barely played for the Toffees under Frank Lampard.

Branthwaite joined Everton from League Two side Carlisle at the start 2020 after the teenager had forced his way into the Cumbrians’ team. He made his Everton first-team debut at the end of the 2019/20 season and was said to be highly thought of by former manager Carlo Ancelotti.

But he was shipped off on loan to Championship side Blackburn Rovers during the second half of the last campaign. And he didn’t make a Premier League appearance under Rafa Benitez before the former Liverpool boss was given his marching orders earlier this year.

Branthwaite has featured just four times in the top flight under Lampard. But, according to the Daily Mail, United are monitoring the youngster and believe he has the potential to kick on. The Red Devils are keen to add a new centre-back to their squad – but the size of their transfer budget will depend on whether they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

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United have supposedly put together a list of transfer targets that includes internationals. But they are also focusing their attentions on young players who could be bought for much lower fees. And Branthwaite, who is 6ft 5in and technically gifted, could meet the Red Devils’ requirements.

But Everton could be reluctant to let him depart Merseyside after handing him a new contract in December, which ties him to the club until 2025.

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There appeared to be huge optimism at Old Trafford at the start of the season after the Red Devils put together a squad that looked capable of competing with the best teams in the Premier League. And the northwest side won four of their first five top-flight matches. But the wheels fell off in the autumn as they suffered a precipitous downturn in fortunes.

The Red Devils sacked their previous manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, before appointing Ralf Rangnick as their interim boss until the end of the season. But Rangnick has struggled to get the best out of his players and they face an uphill battle to secure a top-four finish.

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag looks set to be appointed United’s new manager in the coming days after apparently beating seven rivals to land the top job. And the Dutchman will need to decide whether Branthwaite is the sort of player who can help the 13-time Premier League champions become the dominant force they once were.

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