According to the latest reports from Sunderland Echo, Celtic are in the race with their Glaswegian rivals Rangers to sign Carlisle United’s young centre back Jarrad Branthwaite. Premier League sides like Southampton and Newcastle United are also said to be in the mix. It is believed that the Magpies are the frontrunners to sign the 17-year-old defender.
Branthwaite has his contract at the club until 2021 and Carlisle United does have an option to extend it further for a year. The report doesn’t mention what kind of price Carlisle United would demand for their young ace.
The 17-year-old broke into Carlisle United’s team in the second half of last season when he was still 16. The centre back has played a more prominent role so far this season as he made eight appearances in all competitions. Newcastle United are said to be the front runners because they have the option for the first refusal on the player. That deal was agreed as part of the agreement for Elias Sorensen who joined Carlisle United on a season-long loan from the Tyneside outfit.
Does Celtic need centre backs?
Lennon lost quite a few of his defensive players in the summer but the club recruited well. Christopher Jullien was brought in for big money, and he has added more steel to the side. The manager has also relied on player’s versatility as Nir Bitton has played as a centre back even though he is a defensive midfielder.
Hatem Abd Elhamed is also a versatile option as he has already played as a right-back and centre back. With Jozo Simunovic and Kristoffer Ajer being the other defenders, Celtic do have enough defensive options at the moment. However, Branthwaite is likely going to be an option for the future as he is still just 17, and he might need some more time to be ready for Premiership football.
What can Branthwaite offer?
Branthwaite is an upcoming modern-day centre back who is comfortable with the ball at his feet, and he can play his way out from the back. Give that he stands in at 6ft4, he is understandably robust and reliable in the air. Branthwaite’s recovery pace is also impressive, and he can hold his own against pacy forwards as well.
The youngster seems to have the talent to make it at the top level, and Lennon should undoubtedly look to make a move for him in January or in the summer. However, their task will be cut out with the latest reports suggesting that the Toon have the option for the first refusal on the player.
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