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Manchester United 'line up £80m deal as first marquee signing of Sir Jim Ratcliffe era'

Man Utd 'line up £80m deal as first marquee signing of Ratcliffe era'
© Reuters
Manchester United line up an £80m summer move for Everton's in-demand centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite, according to a report.

Manchester United are reportedly determined to secure the signature of Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite when this summer's transfer window opens for business.

The Red Devils will sign at least one centre-back this summer, but it is possible that two could arrive, as both Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans are out of contract at the end of June, while there remains speculation surrounding the futures of both Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.

Juventus' Bremer is believed to be admired by Man United, but it is long been thought that Branthwaite is the club's leading target in the middle of the defence.

According to The Sun, Man United are lining up an £80m move for the Englishman and are hopeful that Jason Wilcox's likely arrival will place them in a strong position when it comes to a potential transfer.

The report claims that Wilcox, who is wanted from Southampton, where he has been their football director, has a strong relationship with the Everton defender's agent David Reeves.

Jarrad Branthwaite celebrates scoring for Everton on February 3, 2024© Reuters

Man United are not the only club interested in Branthwaite, with Newcastle United, Manchester City and Real Madrid also believed to be keeping a close eye on the situation.

The 21-year-old recently insisted that he is currently focused on the remainder of the season, with Everton battling to remain in the Premier League.

Branthwaite has a contract at Goodison Park until June 2027, but the Toffees have allegedly accepted that they will find it difficult to keep hold of him due to the growing interest.

The centre-back impressed during a loan spell at PSV Eindhoven last season before returning to Goodison Park, and he has become a vital player for Sean Dyche's side as the campaign has developed.

Branthwaite, who was in the England squad for the March internationals, has now featured on 34 occasions during the 2023-24 season, with 28 of those outings coming in the Premier League.

Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite celebrates after the match on September 23, 2023© Reuters

Man United are expected to spend heavily this summer

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is currently preparing for his first transfer window since being confirmed as Man United's new minority shareholder, and it is expected to be a busy market for the club.

The Red Devils are 10 points off the top four in the Premier League, so it is difficult to imagine Champions League football being secured for next season, while there are financial restrictions in place.

That said, Man United are likely to be in the market for at least four or five new players, with a right-back, left-back, centre-back, central midfielder and centre-forward set to arrive.

Red Devils head coach Erik ten Hag has said that he wants a left-back and striker this summer, although it remains to be seen whether the Dutchman is still at the helm heading into next season.

There will also be a number of departures this summer, with Varane, Evans, Sofyan Amrabat, Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Anthony Martial and Antony potentially all being moved on.

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