Former Man Utd defender urges club to ‘aim higher’ than Jarrad Branthwaite | Football

Branthwaite is thought to be a top target for United heading into the summer (Picture; Getty)

Former Manchester United defender Jonathan Spector believes the club can ‘aim higher’ than Everton star Jarrad Branthwaite this summer.

United have plans to bring in a new centre-half following a season where their options at the back have been decimated by injury.

The club are eager to bring in a long-term partner for Lisandro Martinez, who himself has been limited to just nine starting appearances, with Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Jonny Evans among 12 players who could be moved on this summer.

With Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS now overseeing football operations at Old Trafford, the club have made Branthwaite a top target following his superb campaign at Everton.

The 21-year-old, who is also wanted by Tottenham, has played a key role under Sean Dyche and was called up to the senior England squad for the first time in March.

While INEOS are keen to bring young, British talent to Old Trafford, former defender Spector has reservations.

The former USA international, who made his way through United’s academy before spells at West Ham United and Birmingham City, rates the Toffees youngster as a ‘fantastic young player’ but believes a worrying lack of leadership in United’s defence calls for a more established option.

Former Manchester United defender Jonathan Spector

Spector, who retired in 2019, now heads in recruitment at Atlanta United (Picture: Getty)

‘I haven’t seen a lot of Jarrad, but in the games I’ve seen him play, he’s done well,’ Spector said, speaking exclusively to via BetUS, the home of NFL odds.

‘There is perhaps a level of comfort with a player that you see week-in week-out in the Premier League and knowing what he’s about, however I would say maybe United can aim a little higher in terms of the players that they are looking to bring in.’

Spector, who is now head of international recruitment at MLS side Atlanta United, continued: ‘Yeah and no disrespect to Jarrad as he’s a very good player, but I do think for a club like United they should be competing to bring in the best centre backs in the world and I don’t think many players would put him in that category.’

Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt

De Ligt could be a leader at United, Spector believes (Picture: Getty)

Spector names Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt, previously targeted by United whose future in Germany is uncertain heading into the summer, as one possible option but concedes a lack of Champions League football at Old Trafford next summer could complicate issues.

‘De Ligt and those players are the type of players that they should be competing for and trying to bring in. The fact that they’re not playing Champions League football is not going to help the case.

‘Jarrad is only 21, so is he the player that is going to come in and fix that defence? Especially when I would view one of the issues as a lack of consistent leadership within the back line and the need to fill that, so I’m sure there are some other targets on there.

‘Is Jarrad an up-and-coming, fantastic central defender? Yes, but at the same time I think they need a bit more of a finished product right now with a bit more of the leadership qualities.

‘I think profile-wise, a player who is established and proven for a few years at the highest levels that has a bit more of the leadership qualities.’

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