Man Utd transfer ‘is going to happen’ as Ratcliffe tipped to land Branthwaite

Man Utd transfer 'is going to happen' as Ratcliffe tipped to land Branthwaite

Jeff Stelling has confidently backed Manchester United to complete the signing of Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite this summer despite potential competition from Manchester City. United are set to undergo an overhaul at centre-back with the futures of multiple players in the position uncertain.

Raphael Varane, 30, and Jonny Evans, 36, could leave Old Trafford on free transfers when their contracts expire at the end of June.

Meanwhile, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof will also both be in their thirties by next season and are entering the final years of their deals, possibly leaving United open to offers.

Lisandro Martinez appears to be the only senior centre-back guaranteed to remain at the club beyond this summer, but his relentless injury woes over the last 12 months are a concern.

Branthwaite is reportedly at the top of United’s shortlist for competition and a partner for Martinez next season. The 21-year-old has shone in his first full campaign as a starter for Everton.

And Stelling believes Branthwaite is Old Trafford-bound even if Pep Guardiola attempts to lure him to the east side of Manchester.

“It’s going to happen. Everton need the money, and their biggest asset, their most sellable asset, is 21-year-old Jarrad Branthwaite,” Stelling said on talkSPORT.

“I think he will find himself at Old Trafford. Never mind Man City, it’ll be Old Trafford, I imagine.

“With the likes of Jonny Evans, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire, all ageing players, they need to bring in some youth, and I’m thinking £45million, something like that, would do the job.”

United would be fortunate to seal a £45m deal for Branthwaite, whose stock has soared even higher with his first senior England call-up this month.

The Mail report that City have entered the frame for the former PSV Eindhoven loanee, with Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid also suitors.

And it’s claimed that Everton are expected to demand at least £60m to part ways at the end of the season. That asking price could dip if the Toffees suffer relegation from the Premier League.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe will be keen to invest heavily in his first summer transfer window as United co-owner, with a new-look sporting structure potentially in place by then.

Incoming chief executive Omar Berrada will oversee football decisions, as will Dan Ashworth if an agreement is reached on compensation paid to Newcastle United for their sporting director.

Ratcliffe has suggested that United’s transfer strategy could shift from blockbuster signings to more affordable, smarter buys.

An early exception could be made for Branthwaite, though, whose homegrown status and left-footed nature represent two attractive traits in what would be a long-term investment.