Everton’s contract decision can save millions as transfer priority looms
In recent weeks there have been calls for many young Everton players to have a chance in the senior squad.
Much of that focus has been on Lewis Dobbin and Ellis Simms in particular, with those calls being the most important as the Blues struggle to score in their lowest level.
Some also shared their desire to see someone like Tyler Onyango featured in the midfield, especially when Rafa Benitez’s side couldn’t fill the void left by Abdoulaye Doucoure.
And there was no difference in defense either.
An injury to another key player, this time Yerry Mina, left others fighting for those two spaces on the side – but throughout Everton’s bad spell they failed to reach the top.
Jarrad Branthwaite, unfortunately for him, didn’t have a chance during this spell.
His own injury issue kept him from being selected for a brief period earlier in the campaign, but he is now fit and eager to leave now he is considered a full senior player – with a new contract. in addition.
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Less than two years ago, the teenager was brought in to join the Under-23 club.
Of course, a few months later he made his Premier League debut thanks to an injury crisis at the back.
It is a testament to how quickly the defender was able to impress so many people at his new club.
Going from Ligue 2 to the first division, even a young team at the start, was always going to take time. It couldn’t be an instant transition.
But quickly Branthwaite found himself in favor of Carlo Ancelotti. He got a contract extension. The person you spoke to around Everton would only have positive things to say about the defender.
This has continued so far, although it has been limited to a single senior appearance so far this quarter.
Last season’s loan at Blackburn got off to a good start but ended disappointingly with an injury that brought him back to Finch Farm.
Having recovered from this problem, the teenager now has a new manager to impress in Benitez, rather than the man who gave him his Premier League debut.
If the first-team boss looked at his recent Under-23 performance against Brighton at Goodison last month, he undoubtedly would have been very happy.
Branthwaite may have only played 45 minutes on the occasion, to get back into shape after his injury, but he was a perfect illustration of why he is so prized right now.
Comfortable in possession, athletic, quick, powerful, wise beyond his years – he is every inch the young defender that Premier League clubs so often claim.
In fact, watching the 19-year-old play might draw comparisons for many to John Stones.
The laid back and confident demeanor he behaves with has been too good for Under-23 football for some time – and now he finds himself on the precipice of the first team.
How long will it be before his luck returns? Only Benitez can really know the answer.
Mina, suffering from another injury, could open the door slightly again in the next few weeks of a busy festive period, during which players may well need to rest and turn.
Looking further into the future, you’d expect another loan move to be the best port of call for Branthwaite in January as he seeks more consistent playing time.
He’s at a stage in his development where playing at a senior level every week isn’t just a priority, it’s a necessity.
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On a related note, a plan to get him into the Everton squad on a regular basis has to be key.
He has already proven that he can be trusted in the short term. He has a lot to learn, like any youngster, but he shows a great will to do it precisely.
Among the many transfer priorities going forward, it’s not hard to imagine a situation where the center-back is one of them.
Mina will only have a year to run on her contract, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate have often struggled for consistency when playing long term.
Everton might have a ready-made option to go straight to the side at Branthwaite. Indeed, this new deal could save the club millions of pounds in the future.
And how they need it to be.
A new contract for a young player is always good news, of course, but it could be absolutely crucial for the Blues in the very near future.