Man Utd could have another Rio Ferdinand on their hands with dream £75m summer swoop

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The Red Devils have been linked with a move for a top class new defender

At the risk of paraphrasing Duran Duran, his name is Rio, and before he made a living from outlandish podcasting hot takes and his lifestyle and fitness clothing brand, he was a pretty decent centre-back in his day. Think we might have just ducked a lawsuit from Le Bon and the boys there.

By 'pretty decent', we of course mean 'one of the best in the world for several successive years', but even Rio Ferdinand started relatively humbly. He may have made his West Ham debut as a teenager and become the youngest defender in the history of the England national team, but it would take him half a decade to earn his record-breaking transfer to Leeds United, and a further couple of seasons before he would move to Manchester United and properly begin a glittering career of silverware collection.

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All of this is to say that sometimes, it is best to judge a player on their trajectory, rather than the point at which they are currently at. And that brings us to Jarrad Branthwaite.

The Everton defender has bordered on the revelatory this season, and has been a rare and consistent bright spark in a Toffees campaign that has, at times, felt plagued to a biblical extent. One more financial misdemeanour and the Premier League will probably send the locusts and the frogs. Indeed, Branthwaite has been so good this term, in spite of everything collapsing around him, that he is said to have caught the eye of Manchester United transfer chiefs.

According to the Mirror, the Red Devils have made the 21-year-old one of their main targets for the summer window, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe eager to rejuvenate an ailing squad ahead of his first full campaign at the club. For their part, Everton are expected to demand somewhere in the region of £75 million for Branthwaite, although it remains to be seen how well their bargaining power would abide if they are no longer in the Premier League.

Regardless, Branthwaite is wanted at Old Trafford, and for good reason. The former Carlisle United academy graduate has settled well in the top flight despite the barrage of challenges he and his teammates have faced this season, and there are even those who believe that he is deserving of senior international recognition.

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Presumably, that will come at some unspecified point in the future, near or distant, but either way, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Branthwaite is destined for far more than a perpetual relegation battle. A big money move is expected, and to that end, he does bring to mind a young Ferdinand - an undeniable talent eclipsing those around him with an effortless ease.

And who is to say that the Goodison Park prospect can't go on to have a career that is as decorated as Ferdinand's eventually became? Certainly, he is one of the best up-and-coming defenders in English football right now, and if United and Ratcliffe can get their recruitment right over the coming seasons, the hope will be that they can establish themselves as frequent silverware contenders once again. Branthwaite's arrival would be as good a place to start that overhaul process as any.

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