Everton have confirmed that they have secured the signature of highly-rated Carlisle United’s defender Jarrad Branthwaite. The 17-year-old was being linked (Daily Mail) with the likes of  Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester City, Celtic and Rangers but the Toffees have managed to win the race for him.

Branthwaite started to break into Carlisle United’s matchday squad when he was just 16. He made his senior team debut this season and made 11 appearances in all competitions. Everton have struggled defensively on occasions this season, and Michael Keane and Yerry Mina haven’t looked impeccable.

Why were so many top clubs after him?

The Carlisle born youngster is being seen as a special talent, and he seems to have everything to his game to become a top defender. Branthwaite stands in at 6ft4, and he is understandably dominant in the air. Given his physical presence, he is surprisingly quick for a defender of that size as he can cover the ground quickly at the back.

He also showcases decent on the ball qualities, and he can pass it out from the back which is often necessary for a modern-day defender. Former Scotland international and defender Steven Pressley claimed recently that Branthwaite would be a future England international. Pressley had managed Branthwaite for a brief while at Carlisle United.

The fact that he was knocking at the door of senior team football when he was just 16 is a testament to his talent. The current top three Premier League clubs were also interested in him, and it is undoubtedly a significant coup for the Toffees in this transfer window.

One for the future for Ancelotti?

Branthwaite is unlikely to make an impact in the senior team just yet, and he will likely have to fight it out in Everton’s development side before he can make a break into the senior squad. Everton have him on a two and a half year deal only so it isn’t a long term commitment. Maybe the club wants to see the potential in Branthwaite before committing to a long term deal. After around two years, the young ace could be ready for first-team football.

Branthwaite probably felt that he would have a much easier path towards first-team football at Everton and that is perhaps why he decided to opt for them. The Toffees will now hope that the English youngster could realise his potential within a few years to develop a first-team defender.

Abhimanyu is the CEO of AM Infotrix, the support desk of The 4th Official.