Man Utd identify Jarrad Branthwaite as top centre-back transfer target | Football

Everton youngster Jarrad Branthwaite is at the top of Manchester United’s wishlist (Picture: Getty)

Manchester United’s new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has compiled a wishlist of targets at centre-back and Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite has been identified as the club’s priority for the summer.

Ratcliffe completed a £1.3billion partial takeover at United last month and the British billionaire – the CEO of the Ineos chemicals group – has made no secret of his lofty ambitions following his arrival.

Intent on returning the Red Devils to their former glory, the 71-year-old has outlined his plan to knock bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester City ‘off their perch’ within the next three years – echoing Sir Alex Ferguson’s iconic rallying cry from 2002.

Ratcliffe has also confirmed his preference to build a new stadium on the site of Old Trafford, while drawing up a shortlist of his ideal signings for the summer transfer window, with a flurry of comings and goings expected at the Theatre of Dreams.

Crucially, though, Ratcliffe is yet to throw his public support behind Erik ten Hag and it remains to be seen whether the Dutchman will still be in charge come the start of next season as the club explore a possible move for Zinedine Zidane.

However, United are ploughing ahead with their recruitment plans and will launch a bid for young Everton defender Branthwaite, 21, whether or not Ten Hag is still in the hot seat, according to The Mirror.

The report states that Branthwaite is United’s top target at centre-half, with Ratcliffe looking to invest in homegrown talents that possess the potential to become superstars of the future.

Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe is keen to invest in homegrown players with potential (Picture: Getty)

It’s claimed the Toffees are likely to demand a fee in excess of £75million for their prized possession, though United are hopeful of capturing the England Under-21 international for around £50m.

The Red Devils have also been credited with a strong interest in Benfica’s Antonio Silva, Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo and Giorgio Scalvini in recent weeks and months, with Raphael Varane and former captain Harry Maguire facing an uncertain future.

Veteran centre-back Jonny Evans, who rejoined United last summer, will depart when his contract expires at the end of the campaign.

It’s understood both Real Madrid and Tottenham are monitoring Branthwaite’s situation along with United and could provide fierce competition for the defender, who Everton signed for just £1m from Carlisle four years ago.

Everton have slapped a £75m price tag on the England U21 centre-back (Picture: Getty)

Addressing the media last month, Everton manager Sean Dyche insisted he was ‘not worried’ about the incessant speculation linking Branthwaite with a move away from Goodison Park.

‘Look, we’ve all seen this before,’ Dyche told reporters.

‘A young player comes into the Premier League, does great and then all these stories start. It is a standard process so I am not worried about that.

‘He does continue to improve but I will remind you there is no gold dust from me or my staff. We do not want to get in the way of the improvement.

‘He is coming along at a really nice rate. You can coach things into players they do not need.

‘For me, it is just to keep on enjoying it.’

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