18 July 2024

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Liverpool have been backed to land a stunning blow on two of their fiercest rivals by signing Everton’s ‘best player’ who is a confirmed transfer target at Manchester United.

Saturday’s Merseyside derby saw Liverpool emerge with all three points, though despite holding a man advantage for over an hour it was an uphill struggle for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Everton defended resolutely on enemy turf at Anfield. Combined with Liverpool’s failure to capitalise on a series of fast breaks, the match was in the balance until Mohamed Salah’s second goal in the 97th minute.

Making life difficult for the Reds at every turn was Everton centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite. After impressing during a season-long loan spell with PSV Eindhoven last term, Branthwaite is now a firm fixture in the starting eleven on Merseyside.

The 21-year-old left-footer has caught the eye at Old Trafford and Erik ten Hag’s next major move will come in Branthwaite’s position.

“As I’ve previously reported, we know Man Utd want a top centre-back for 2024, so we’re going to see a lot of names linked,” said transfer guru Fabrizio Romano on Monday morning.

Branthwaite is one of six names on an all-star shortlist Man Utd have drafted. However, according to former Liverpool striker John Aldridge, Klopp should pounce in a shock transfer that will sting both Everton and Man Utd.

Liverpool urged to break Everton hearts

In his column for the Liverpool Echo Aldridge wrote: “Salah may have been the headline-grabber, but it was Jarrad Branthwaite who stood out the most at Anfield.

“I think he is a really good player. I first saw him play in a mini derby at Finch Farm a few years ago and he caught my eye then.

“He enjoyed a successful loan spell abroad at PSV Eindhoven last season and looks like a real talent.

“I don’t want to upset any Evertonians by saying this, and whether Liverpool would buy from Everton is another matter as it rarely happens, but I certainly think he has got the ability to go on and become a leading figure and a starter for England.”

The headline in Aldridge’s piece read: ‘I don’t want to upset Evertonians but Liverpool should buy their best player’.

Clearly, Aldridge is a huge admirer of Everton’s centre-half.

Branthwaite has received four caps for England at Under-21 level since making his debut earlier in 2023. If his stellar form for the Toffees continues, he’ll certainly come into the reckoning for the senior side down the line.

The fact he’s a left-footer will also work in his favour. At present, the only left-footed centre-half who regularly makes Gareth Southgate’s England squads is Levi Colwill.

Tyrone Mings would normally come into the equation, though now aged 30 and having suffered a serious ACL injury, his international career may be over.

Branthwaite future “up to Everton” – Aldridge

“The fact Jurgen Klopp even talked him up before the game in his pre-match press conference was interesting,” continued Aldridge.

“He is likely to be on the radar of other teams as well, Manchester United have already been mentioned as a possible destination, but it’s up to Everton over what they do with him.

“Branthwaite recently signed a new contract with Everton, too. I’m looking at Everton’s team and, if you want to go forward as a club, those are the type of players you have to keep around. Whether or not Everton can do that, only time will tell.”

The contract extension Aldridge referenced was signed on October 6. The centre-half is now under contract with Everton until 2027.

As such, any move for the defender won’t come cheap. What’s more, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Liverpool were quoted a higher price than the rest if they did make an approach.

The Reds are understood to be exploring the centre-back market ahead of a swoop at some stage in 2024. Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip are both 32 years of age and the latter is out of contract at season’s end.

 

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