The cheeky Man Utd and Everton swap transfer deal that would answer January window prayers

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The Red Devils have been linked with Toffees defender Jarrad Branthwaite in recent weeks.

When I was younger, my little sister used to have a steady rotation of VHS tapes that she would insist on watching pretty much every afternoon when she got home from nursery. As such, I know from front to back, word for word, the entire scripts of Mary Poppins, Shrek 2, and the musical, Oliver! The exclamation mark is in the title, by the way - I wasn't just making that statement emphatically. Anyways, I mention this because every time I see Anthony Martial I am reminded of that scene in which Mr. Bumble, played by Harry Secombe, drags the protagonist through the filth-ridden streets of London singing 'One boy, boy for sale. He's going cheap'.

Now, as things stand, Manchester United probably won't even get Bumble's asking price of seven guineas for the French striker, given that his contract expires at the end of the season and they have ostensibly made no plans to offer him any kind of extension. But just because Martial is surplus to requirements doesn't mean that he can't still provide the Red Devils with a little bit... more. (That's an Oliver! reference, just FYI.)

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With the January transfer window swiftly ebbing away, United still have a couple of days in which they could, theoretically, offer up the forward as ballast in any prospective incoming deals of their own. Managers everywhere wait with bated breath for the ringing of a landline. Managers like Sean Dyche.

You see Everton have something, or rather somebody, that United want. Jarrad Branthwaite has exploded into relevancy this season, and remains a rare cause for optimism in a campaign that otherwise feels as if it was sent by the gods to punish the Toffees. They're about two financial misdemeanours away from the Premier League announcing that instead of a points deduction, they will be hit by a plague of locusts.

As such, difficult choices may have to be made. In recent weeks, Branthwaite has been linked with everybody from Arsenal to Real Madrid, but it is United's persistent admiration that continues to intrigue. It is no secret that the Red Devils are in the market for defensive reinforcements, with the respective futures of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane, and veteran ringer Jonny Evans all delicately poised.

To that end a swoop for Branthwaite makes perfect sense. The Cumbrian has impressed like few others since the beginning of the season, and at 21 years of age, he is exactly the kind of player that United could sign in the coming months with view to building a back line around him for the next decade or longer. Those who have been paying attention to his meteoric progression would be quick to substantiate claims that he is already ready for a big money move to one of the Premier League's most illustrious clubs, and with Everton in, diplomatically speaking, something of a pickle, now feels like as good a time as any to test their resolve.

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But that does not mean the Toffees should be held to ransom. Just because their straits are dire and Branthwaite's time on Merseyside appears short, Dyche and his battered dressing room cannot afford to settle for a raw deal. If they are to endure the dark cloud of a departure as notable as his, then the very least they can hope for is a silver lining beyond a slight balancing of the books.

So far this season, only Crystal Palace, Sheffield United, and Burnley have scored fewer goals in the Premier League than Everton, and if the Toffees are to pull away from the yawning jaws of relegation for a second time, then they need to discover a more consistent and potent attacking touch. In that regard, Martial certainly wouldn't hurt their cause.

The Frenchman has been far from prolific for United in recent times, but he has also had to struggle with a scarcity of opportunities and the lingering pressure of a relationship turning sour. To arrive at a new club as the main man with a point to prove and plenty of chances to do so might be exactly what he needs right now.

In that respect, this would be a prospective deal with the potential to aid everybody involved. United get the bright young talent they so desperately crave at a slightly reduced price, while Everton bring in a wedge of money and a player with the capability to fire them to safety over the course of the second half of the campaign.

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Of course, these things are rarely as straightforward as hare-brained opinion columns on the internet make them sound, but there are worthwhile reasons to believe that this could be a possible agreement that has its merits across the board. At the very least, it is something that United should consider trying their luck with before the transfer window crashes shut later in the week.

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