The £70m Man Utd January transfer target club must go all out to sign this summer

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The Red Devils have been linked with an expensive Premier League swoop for some time now

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. A couple of weeks ago, it looked as if Jarrad Branthwaite could be heading to Euro 2024, with a big money move to Manchester United waiting for him on the other side. Now, as the beginning of the tournament and the opening of the summer transfer window edge ever closer, he has been omitted from the former while the latter has been thrown into considerable doubt.

United have reportedly been tracking Branthwaite for several months now. There were rumours in the lead up to the January window, rumours throughout the January window, and rumours that have persisted ever since the January window drably closed. To all intents and purposes, it appeared as if the Everton defender was a priority target for the Red Devils.

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But a fresh update from talkSPORT casts some uncertainty over this. It is understood that for the first time, United have their reservations over Branthwaite, and a lot of that reticence is related to Everton’s asking price for the 21-year-old.

It is claimed that the Toffees will demand in excess of £70 million for the precocious centre-back, and that Sir Jim Ratcliffe, United’s transfer fairy godmother, is hesitant to meet that valuation. Despite whispers of interest from Real Madrid, Ratcliffe is of the belief that his club are the only serious suitors for Branthwaite, and is subsequently reluctant to enter into what could essentially become a bidding war with himself.

Alongside Branthwaite, United are also said to be monitoring other defensive targets, and have supposedly already failed with a bid to sign free agent Tosin Adarabioyo, who instead opted to sign for Chelsea, this summer. OGC Nice star Jean-Clair Todibo is also understood to be a target.

But in spite of his astronomical price tag, United should certainly think twice before walking away from a deal for Branthwaite entirely. For one thing, you suspect that Everton, especially in their current financial predicament, could be driven down a touch on that £70 million price point. Without a lengthy queue of prospective buyers, and with the likely need to offload a prized asset over the coming weeks, the Toffees will presumably be willing to compromise somewhat on their initial quote.

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And then there is undeniable quality of Branthwaite himself. Even if Everton do hold steady on their asking price, United could do far worse than investing big in a player who looks for all the world as if he could become an elite Premier League defender for the next decade or more. While the starlet may have been omitted from England’s squad for this summer’s European Championship, it feels like a matter of time before he properly steps up as a genuine contender for a regular starting berth at senior international level, and his performances in a middling Everton side last season showed more than enough to suggest that he has what it takes to make the step up to a club with continental ambitions in the immediate future.

£70 million may feel steep, but as an investment that could see United right for several years, and that would secure a player who would presumably come with a very, very healthy resale potential, it might not be the ungodly outlay that it initially appears. The Red Devils should not be held to ransom, of course, but nor should they dismiss the idea of signing Branthwaite either.

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